Every spring, it descends on us, bringing rounds of sneezing, headaches, and stuffed noses. It attacks through foods, animals, plants, and innumerable chemical combinations. It is among the most common and potentially lethal afflictions known. Yet only a century ago, allergies as we know them didn’t exist. From a fringe malady of the wealthy, the allergy has become the archetypal “disease of civilization”, one that affects a quarter of Europeans. Why are more and more of us suffering from allergies?

Pervasive pollution seems to connive with other factors in modern life to make us allergic. Most of the goods we buy taking their safety for granted contain or release toxins that penetrate our body through our breath, skin, and what we eat and drink. So our home, our safe haven, can be more polluted than a downtown street in the peak hour. Hence, we all carry at least 200 poisons inside our body: it’s the unexpected side effect to modern civilization.

In my case – one in more than 10 million in Italy - pollutants may have caused my immune system to go wrong and attack a harmless element inside my body, pollen. The origin of allergy remains a mystery, though, and a cure elusive.

Thus, this film is also about my war on toxins. I will carry out an experiment to see whether, by combining cutting edge mainstream allergy treatment with avoidance of environmental toxins, indoors and outdoors, I can find a cure. After biomonitoring my body and testing my closest environment for all possible pollution sources, I’ll set out to find practical solutions to avoid environmental pollutants. Toxicity experts will help me find toxic household products out and scientists will highlight the likely impact on our health of the toxins they contain.

The war on toxins is declared!

10 years ago, a mild allergy I had never paid much attention to turned suddenly nasty. On a trip to Zambia where I was shooting a documentary, the area around my eyes puffed up and soon I could barely open them. Despite my promptly taking antihistamines, my conditions worsened and I was soon breathless and tingly, and realized that an allergy can be deadly. Racing to a hospital proved impossible though, as the driver kept stopping to converse with friends from the villages we were crossing! Him notwithstanding, I was in luck: I was not diagnosed a full-blown asthma attack nor anaphylaxis.
Then, while researching the use of chemicals in farming, I stumbled on a book by scientist Theo Colborn “Our Stolen Future”. It tells how the pitiful state of the environment is posing a threat to our very survival. I quickly made the link:  Was just pollen the matter in Zambia or did pollution from the world’s fourth most polluted city in a copper-mining district AND pollen conspire to nearly kill me?
But the question is: is it possible to remove them?

Patrizia Marani
Patrizia Marani
Patrizia Marani
Director of photography
Film Editor
Fabio Coggiola, James Weidner
Cast and characters
Fiorella Belpoggi, Dominique Belpomme, Carl-Gustaf Bornehag, Silvano Cristiani, Watze de Wolf, Elina Jerschow, Ruslan M. Medzhitov, Kari Nadeau, Thomas Rau, Elizabeth Salter Green, Shanna H. Swan, Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann.
Production Director
Enrica Capra
Paolo Santoni
GraffitiDoc (Torino), Opéra Films (Francia), AT-Doc (Belgio), ARTE GEIE, RTBF.
Con il sostegno di Film Commission Torino Piemonte e della Regione Piemonte (Piemonte Doc Film Fund - Fondo regionale per il documentario - produzione giugno 2013) CNC, Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, con il supporto del Programma MEDIA dell’Unione Europea - Slate Funding.
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Premio della Giura al Rome Doc Scient Film Festival 2015, selezionato a Cinemambiente Intl Film Festival 2014 e Siciliambiente Film Festival 2014.

Enrica Capra | GraffitiDoc
Last update: 14 April 2016