Danger­ous po­lio fight in Pak­istan

Los Angeles Times - - MOVIES - — Martin Tsai

As one of the three coun­tries still grap­pling with en­demic po­lio, Pak­istan alone ac­counts for more than 80% of the world’s in­fec­tions. Film­maker Tom Roberts’ doc­u­men­tary, “Ev­ery Last Child,” fol­lows the of­ten per­ilous cam­paign to ad­min­is­ter po­lio vac­cine in a coun­try where the Tal­iban has for­bid­den it since 2012. Vac­ci­na­tors and po­lice es­corts risk be­com­ing as­sas­si­na­tion tar­gets.

The film couldn’t be more timely and ger­mane for the Amer­i­can au­di­ence. If it weren’t a doc­u­men­tary, it would seem like a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic al­le­gory of our own vac­ci­na­tion de­bate.

The Tal­iban’s man­date aside, con­spir­acy the­o­ries about the vac­cine run ram­pant. Some Pak­istani in­ter­vie­wees be­lieve that the West is plot­ting to cause pre­ma­ture pu­berty among girls and im­po­tence among boys by sup­ply­ing it and that the health work­ers go­ing from door to door are spies. Those deadly U.S. drone at­tacks only add fuel to their mis­trust of the West.

Ali Faisal Zaidi’s pic­turesque cin­e­matog­ra­phy and Nitin Sawh­ney’s lush score stand out but are not re­motely in­tru­sive or ma­nip­u­la­tive. The tes­ti­mo­nial from a res­o­lute health worker and the tra­vails of a po­lio-af­flicted para­plegic are in­dis­putably pow­er­ful. “Ev­ery Last Child.” No MPAA rat­ing. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 25 min­utes. Play­ing: Laemmle’s Mu­sic Hall 3, Bev­erly Hills.

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