Filmmaker Eric Merola, born and raised in the city, was at the helm of both films, having first become fascinated by the research of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, the founder of the Burzynski Clinic in Houston, Tex., the president of the Burzynski Research Institute and the inventor of the antineoplastons gene-targeted treatment for cancer, in the 1990s, when word of his work first came to light.
Having established a bond of trust with Dr. Burzynski on the first film, Merola was eager to follow up on his progress. Burzynski Part II also follows some of his patients, many considered incurable by mainstream oncology.
“From the moment my first documentary was released I was contacted by all sorts of people that were considering going to Burzynski for therapy — so I decided to roll the dice and follow patients from beginning of therapy and document their outcome,” Merola relates. “I am very pleased with this new film. It’s a very modern story — while the first film was more of a biographical/ historical piece on Burzynski.
“Some patients ended up cancer-free and others did not,” Merola points out. “No one said the therapy is a magic bullet.”
Yet, from the earliest days of Burzynski’s independent research, the results were encouraging, to say the least. With the proper development and implementation, antineoplastons could conceivably supplant such traditional cancer treatments as radiation and chemotherapy.
And that’s the problem. Cancer treatment is, as the title of both films indicates, serious business — and big business.
Some skepticism regarding Burzynski’s research was to be expected from some quarters of the medical establishment, but the intensity and severity of it went beyond criticism to condemnation. Merola is amazed, and not a little disgusted, by the efforts to discredit Burzynski. Had his research not yielded such optimistic results, would there have been such a backlash? Merola doesn’t think so.
It has taken years for the US Food & Drug Administration to sanction clinical testing of antineoplastons — this after years (and millions of dollars) of trying to discredit and even indict Burzynski.
“The impact I hope my films will have is to show the audience another side and another level of corruption that most would not believe possible,” says Merola. “We are all accustomed to deep corruption in government and industry. We see it every day and shrug our shoulders — and sometimes those events end up being diluted into partisan issues — but cancer is a great leveler.
“It doesn’t care who you vote for or how much money you have,” he continues, “and most of the public just can’t possibly believe that an effective, non-toxic treatment for cancer — one that has cured certain cancers for the first time in medical history, would be marginalized and covered up due to the profit system.”
If Merola seems an advocate for Antineoplastons and Dr. Burzynski, it’s also a result of the ongoing effort to suppress and discredit Burzynski’s research. He has challenged the status quo. He’s the maverick, the underdog. The irony, of course, is that he did it to help people, to strike a blow in the ongoing fight against cancer.
Thus, if the naysayers are going to hit, Merola’s going to hit back.
And, when it came time to make Burzynski II, “I did try to get some of ‘the opposition’ to go on-camera with me,” he says. “But they refused, most likely because they know Burzynski is onto something.
“Overall, this experience making these films was a life-changing catharsis to realize that the human family is capable of trying to destroy an effective cancer therapy that they themselves might need one day — for reasons of profit and control — it’s a pretty sad indication of where we are as a people,” he observes. “I used to think that if I just ‘told the true story it would help change it,’ but in reality all it did was force the establishment to further tighten the noose around people having access to this therapy.”
Nevertheless, thanks to Merola’s films and indeed, even to those who would attempt to discredit him, Burzynski’s research is more known. The word is out there. The films are out there. (Burzynski II is also available on-demand and will be released on DVD in July.)
“Nothing in the films is untrue — it’s all factually backed up and verified,” Merola says. “The internet is saturated with negativity and propaganda against Burzynski, so I suppose anyone that tells the ‘truth’ will be labeled as an ‘advocate.’”
Showtimes are 7:30 pm and 8 pm. Eric Merola will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A period. Tickets are $11.
For tickets or more information, call 336.722.8148 or visit the official A/perture website: aperturecinema.com. The official Burzynski website is burzynskimovie.com.