The documentary “A world of allergic people”, awarded at the Rhushdoc International Film Festival 2022

Interesting, instructive, international, exciting, these are the words that come to my mind after seeing the film “A world of allergic people”. In May, Arte is on the air this documentary produced by the French company “Découpages” . This one just stood out in Los Angeles during the seventh edition of the Rushdoc festival winning the prize for the best scientific documentary. Ségolène Dujardin, producer and director Cosima Dannoritzer agreed to answer my questions.

Project design

On May 21, 2022, Arte is scheduled to broadcast “A world of allergies”. Telefago and allergist, I didn’t need anything else to watch this excellent 52-minute documentary. But how did this project come about? The producer, Ségolène Dujardin, explains:

“I’m not allergic but more and more people are, even afterwards. I am a mother and I organize birthday parties during which you have to be careful with food allergies. There is a growing number of people who own adrenaline auto-injector pens. When we look at the figures announced by the WHO! We tell ourselves that something is happening

The idea of ​​a documentary on the subject sprouted in his mind. He successfully sent a pre-file and then a project scenario to Arte. “Explaining allergies is complicated. I am not a scientist by training. So for the twenty-page presentation file, I had to study a lot! Immunoglobulin E, cytokines and all that »… Then comes the production phase. “You have to contact researchers from all countries. A scientific consultant accompanies us throughout the process “. is Cezmi Akdis , Director of the “Swiss Institute for Allergy and Asthma Research”. Furthermore, he appears in the documentary and explains the deleterious effects of detergents on our cells.

Behind the scenes of the shoot

As for the director Cosima Dannoritzer, she totally shares the opinion of S. Dujardin. “I’m not allergic, but I know a lot of people who are. When we cook together, there is always someone with an allergy. It seems strange, to me at the beginning it is like science fiction. Someone can die for something as innocent and small as a peanut. So what’s going on? Then she became aware, like many others, of the danger of food allergies and the potential fatal risk. ” I learn a lot every time. I am a director and my job is to explain a topic to the general public. Since I’m not a scientist, I know how to recognize when it gets too complex “. She adds:“The whole international community is working on the subject and I like to represent it. You can never find all the science in one country. We have to tackle the problem together and I find it fascinating.“. To obtain such a convincing result, these two women, with the help of the team of the agency “Découpages” (directed by S. Dujardin), have worked a lot on the topic of allergies.

In Australia: thunderstorm asthma

A shooting program is established according to the programs of the experts scattered around the four corners of the planet. However, due to the pandemic, the matter is not that simple. C. Dannoritzer specifies ” We usually do all the shots together over two weeks and then organize the editing. This time around it was totally different with the multiple waves of covids“. The director had to juggle the programs of each of the scientists, the subsequent periods of imprisonment. “In Australia we had to shoot in the spring, that is, in November on this continent just when the country was closed to international travelers. Due to imperatives, we were unable to schedule shooting for the following year. We communicated with a cameraman director on site so that he could film the “Storm Thunderstorm” sequence with the Professor Edward Newbigin. I sent him the script first and we exchanged a lot via Skype

Professor Erika von Mutius and Susanne Loeliger

With the inability to travel to some countries due to the pandemic, the director is adapting. “Ithere was an international collaboration. For the interview with Professor Erika Von Mutius, I couldn’t go to Munich. The German cameraman then placed his phone over his camera. With Skype I witnessed the shooting remotely. Thanks to this stratagem, I was then able to ask the specialist a few more questions ”. As a spectator, it is as if you have this scientist in your living room explaining the impact of the Amish and Hutterite herd setup on the development of allergies. Suzanne Loeliger from the University of Zurich visits Fabien, who has grown up on a farm since birth. He studies at his home, the positive influence of this environment in the prevention of allergies.

Professor Gideon Lack and Dr Carine Billard Larue: Peanuts

The topic of peanut allergy has an important place in this documentary. It approaches from the side of prevention with the Professor Gideon Manca, known for his strong involvement in LEAP and EAT studies. The director specifies that in the comments left on the “Youtube” page of the Art channel) on the subject, some parents remain alert to the recommendations for the early introduction of this food in the child of the LEAP study. On the French side, the Dr. Carine Billard Larue (Allergy Unit of the Grand Hôpital de l’Est Francilien) is called to speak, with a supporting example, of the mode of action and the beneficial contribution of allergenic immunotherapy on the quality of life of Lucas, a child allergic to peanuts.

  • LEAP Study: Learn Early About Peanut Allergy
  • EAT study: investigating tolerance

In the United States: cat allergy and biotherapy in asthma

C. Dannoritzer explains to me that he was able to travel to the US at the end of the shoot with a special visa at the end of the wave of Covid. A sequence takes us to New York to watch the training of Tony Bracco, a dancer on Broadway. He is asthmatic and explains his breathing difficulties in an environment full of mold and dust mites. His life is totally transformed by a biotherapy treatment Jamie Oregon explains the mechanism We then go to Portland where the dosing of the Fel d1 allergen in the saliva of Siberian cats considered “hypoallergenic” is carried out by the breeders. Tom and Meredith Lundberg. It should be noted that this type of examination does not take place in France.

Sexual trees, bursting pollen

The icing on the cake is many and varied. How not to be captured by the intervention of Paloma Carinanos, professor of botany at the University of Granada in Spain. He explains the importance of the diversified settlement of factories in city centers. He concludes by hoping for the creation of “hypoallergenic” gardens full of female plants.Janine Fröhlich from the Mainz Institute of Chemistry explains why waterlogged pollen during stormy times increases the risk of asthma.

A little history and a lot of research

Luis Quintana Murci of the Institut Pasteur of Paris, invites us to go back in time. He describes himself as an Indiana Jones in describing the genetic history of man. The meeting between Homo Sapiens and Neenderthal’s man. He tries to understand the implications of this relationship for our current health and allergies. Gideon Lack, will remind us of the story of “hay fever” described in 1819 by John Bostock and so rare a century ago. In another area, a team consisting of Tommaso Marshal (Professor of immunopathology at the University of Liège) e Philipp Starkl (researcher at the Medical University of Vienna) want to unravel the mystery of the role of specific IgE in poison attacks in humans.

Music and entertainment

Admittedly, if all immunology courses were taught in the form of documentary animations, it would be easier to understand. As the director says:It was first of all necessary to understand the mechanism of formation of specific IgE. Then the sequences are designed and scripted by the Spanish artist Juan Carlos Beneyto. As for the movements, they are created by Clorinde Baldassari. At the same time, we had these sequences validated twice by the scientists ”.

Additional music by Florence Caillon pleasantly accompanies each sequence. Apart from the scientific content, adds C. Dannoritzer “ the documentary must hypnotize the viewer both with the image and with the music“. Successful bet

But who is Flock? The answer is in the pre-credits

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Photo: © Découpages Agency “A world of allergic people”.

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