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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI tick documentary returns to Rhode Island International Film Festival

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‘Beautifully horrific’ film tells history, dangers of deer ticks

KINGSTON, R.I. – July 31, 2008 – For the second straight year, “Hidden in the Leaves” – a documentary about ticks and Lyme Disease – will be shown at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

Written and produced by University of Rhode Island film media Professor Mary Healey Jamiel and entomology Professor Thomas Mather, “Hidden in the Leaves” will be shown Sunday, Aug. 10 at 5 p.m. at the URI Feinstein Providence Campus, 80 Washington St. It was still in production when it was screened at the festival last August, but viewers will see the finished version this year.

“Last year, what viewers saw was really a sketch of what became a really solid narrative of how the landscape has allowed ticks to interact,” Healey Jamiel said. “On the other hand, the film tells the story of Polly Murray, who really brought attention to the harmful impact of Lyme Disease on the lives of individuals who suffer from it.”

Told through the eyes of Mather, director of the Center for Vector-Borne Disease at URI, the 24-minute film covers the history of the connection between deer ticks and Lyme Disease, which began to come to light in the 1970s. It shares the experiences of individuals living with Lyme Disease, and also gives viewers tips for prevention and treatment of tick bites.

“This is a beautifully horrific film,” Healey Jamiel said. “Between the landscape of the region, and the ticks themselves, there is a lot of beautiful footage. At the same time, you are talking about scary little creatures that have had a dramatic impact on many lives throughout the region. Inevitably in Rhode Island, we all have been impacted by it, or we at least know someone who has.”

More than 717,000 Rhode Islanders are at risk for encountering a deer tick where they live, which constitutes nearly 75 percent of the state’s population.

“It tells a pretty dramatic story because of the widespread growth of the disease, as it pertains to public health issues,” Healey Jamiel said. “Over the last year, it has been amazing to get emails from people around the country who have been touched by the film.”

The completed film debuted on the URI campus in June, and has been aired four times on Rhode Island’s public television station, Channel 36 (Cox 8). Healey Jamiel, Mather and others involved in the production of the film will be on hand for the showing at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. For ticket information, visit www.film-festival.org.