NEWS- Hidden no more: Preve film gets wide screening

Since its premiere in August 2005, Ricardo Preve's documentary, Chagas: A Hidden Affliction, has garnered attention around the world. Countries including Italy, Argentina, and El Salvador have hosted screenings.

On February 23, however, Preve's message will reach his largest audience yet when his film on Chagas– a fatal parasitic infection that kills 50,000 people a year– makes its television premiere on PBS stations in Charlottesville, Richmond, and Harrisonburg.

"If you're a filmmaker, you always hope to get on PBS," says Preve. "I had discussed the possibility with them, but I needed to find a sponsor."

Or just wait for one to fall into his lap. The documentary, which examines the disease commonly known in Latin American as the "AIDS of the poor," was screened at last October's Virginia Film Festival, where it caught the eye of Foxfield president Benjamin Dick.

"I was so impressed by the fact that there was someone out there who was doing this sort of work," says Dick. "[Chagas] is a fascinating medical phenomenon that the United States has given little or no attention to."

So Dick approached Preve immediately after the showing and offered to provide funds for the PBS broadcast. As a result, Preve– who hadn't even begun actively seeking sponsors– was able to get the ball rolling with PBS that very evening.

"The festival is important for Virginia filmmakers because it brings everybody in the industry together in one place," Preve points out. Since Preve is on the Festival board of directors and his film fit nicely with 2005's "In/Justice" theme, it seemed only natural that his documentary would be selected to be screened. But last fall's showing was one of many around the world in the seven months since the film's premiere.

"It's gotten a fair amount of attention because of a lucky connection," Preve says.

That connection was Doctors without Borders, an international, non-governmental medical organization that delivers emergency medical aid to people in over 70 countries. The group recently held a campaign against Chagas, part of which was sponsoring a tour of the film in nine countries.

Although the film has been screened worldwide, Preve seems as excited if not more so– about the local showing than any other.

"I'm hoping that this could lead to a national PBS broadcast later this year," he says. "And ultimately I'd love to find a distributor to sell it on DVD."

Rick Preve