PBS SCIENCE SERIES "NOVA" ANNOUNCES FIRST COLLABORATION WITH ACCLAIMED FILMMAKER STANLEY NELSON AND FIRELIGHT FILMS ON A NEW DOCUMENTARY: "MEDICAL RACISM" (w.t.)
An Investigation of the Devastating Impacts of Racism on the Health of Black Americans
Slated to Premiere in Late 2022 on PBS
Boston, MA (February 2, 2021) - At today's Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour, the award-winning PBS science series NOVA, a production of GBH Boston, announced its first collaboration with award-winning filmmaker and MacArthur Fellow Stanley Nelson and Firelight Films on a new documentary, MEDICAL RACISM (w.t.). Slated to premiere in late 2022 on PBS, the two-hour film will explore racism's devastating impacts on Black Americans' health and solutions for an equitable future.
Among the many harmful impacts of racism in America, one that's captured great attention over the past year is the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on Black Americans. But while the headlines on COVID-19 have thrown a spotlight on racial inequality in our country's healthcare system, this reality is nothing new. In this timely report, produced by Firelight Films and directed by Stanley Nelson, NOVA will take a hard look at the evidence for medical racism in America, connecting today's stories to a long and reprehensible history that includes the Tuskegee syphilis study, the eugenics movement, and slavery in the Americas. In addition to framing the problem, the film will seek out solutions to the devastating racial health disparities that continue to impact the lives of Black Americans today.
"There are so many misconceptions out there about the causes of racial health disparities," said NOVA Co-Executive Producer Julia Cort. "When we saw how much powerful research there is on the true causes - including scientific studies on the biological impacts of racism and the history of how medical and scientific institutions have harmed Black Americans - we knew NOVA had to tell this story. We are thrilled to be collaborating with Stanley Nelson and Firelight Films to bring this vitally important story to the public."
"I'm so pleased to be working on my first science documentary film with NOVA, such a trusted and distinguished name in the science programming space," said director Stanley Nelson. "The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the medical racism that has long existed in this country. There is so much important, and often shameful, history to unpack that directly connects to the health disparities people of color are facing today, that also gives critical context to the long-overdue national conversation around race that has unfolded throughout the last year."
In MEDICAL RACISM (w.t.), NOVA will reveal not only the long history of racism within our healthcare system and how environmental factors stemming from continued residential segregation contribute to racial health disparities, but also the science of how racism has a direct impact on the human body, making people of color much more vulnerable to disease and chronic illness.
The film will explore how racial biases impact the level of care received by patients of color more broadly, how medical training today perpetuates racist stereotypes, and how even medical tools are designed without patients of color in mind. Additionally, the film will explore how racist assumptions about pain tolerance or drug seeking persist in making some doctors less likely to prescribe pain medication to their Black patients.
Moreover, MEDICAL RACISM (w.t.) will uncover evidence showing that toxic stress--the result of living with constant threats that elevate stress hormone levels - is contributing to higher rates of hypertension and other chronic diseases in the Black community. NOVA will report on how all of these factors and more lead to a diminished level of care, skepticism in our healthcare system, and poorer health outcomes for Black Americans, while also questioning how racism impacts health outcomes long before Black patients actively engage with the healthcare system.
MEDICAL RACISM (w.t.) will be a NOVA Production by Firelight Films for GBH Boston. Directed by Stanley Nelson. Executive Producers for NOVA are Julia Cort and Chris Schmidt. NOVA is a production of GBH Boston.
National corporate funding for NOVA is provided by Draper. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the NOVA Science Trust, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS.
NOVA is the most popular primetime science series on American television, demystifying the scientific and technological concepts that shape and define our lives, our planet, and our universe. The PBS series is also one of the most widely distributed science programs around the world, and is a multimedia, multiplatform brand reaching more than 55 million Americans every year on TV and online. NOVA's important and inspiring stories of human ingenuity, exploration, and the quest for knowledge are regularly recognized with the industry's most prestigious awards. As part of its mission to make the scientific enterprise accessible to all, NOVA is committed to diversity and inclusiveness in all its work, from the production process to the range of stories we tell and voices we feature. In addition, science educators across the country rely on NOVA for resources used in the classroom as well as in museums, libraries, and after-school programs. NOVA is a production of GBH Boston; more information can be found at pbs.org/nova, or by following NOVA on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Firelight is a premier destination for non-fiction cinema by and about communities of color. Firelight produces documentary films, supports emerging filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work. Firelight films have garnered multiple Primetime Emmys, Peabodys, and Sundance awards. Among them, Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, and Freedom Riders. Firelight's programs include the Documentary Lab, an 18-month fellowship that supports emerging filmmakers of color; and Groundwork, regional labs which support early stage filmmakers in the American south, midwest, and U.S. Territories. In addition to a focus on excellence in filmmaking, Firelight develops strategies, partnerships and materials to reach and engage diverse audiences and maximize the impact of documentary films.
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