Presumed To Be A Virus

Von Economo's Encephalitis (VEE) is an enigmatic disease shrouded by time and early 20th century scientific immaturity . According to Constantin von Economo the disease killed approximately 1/3 of the infected; 1/3 recovered and 1/3 had permanent neurological symptoms including parkinsonism. Many pathogens have been proposed to be the cause of VEE with an emphasis on viral etiology and the influenza virus. From 1929 to 1940 a comparative therapeutic vaccine trial featured 2 possible causes of the disease: the virus herpes simplex and the bacterium streptococcus viridians. All studies of the disease have been inconclusive with no single cause being identified. When creating my Parkinson's disease documentary I slotted a VEE video but concluded the subject was too large and complicated for a single chapter, hence this 4 part segment.

  • Richard Melvin
  • Richard Melvin
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 18 minutes 35 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 10, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Richard Melvin

Richard Melvin has degrees in business management, painting and sculpture. He has explored the traditional fine arts, performing and performance art(s). In 2006 Richard lived in a store front window for 32 days as part of Pittsburgh's 3 River's Arts Festival and made 10 paintings whilst streaming live on the internet. He has acted in, directed, edited and produced films. Presumed To Be A Virus is his second science documentary to investigate a neurological disease - the first being Parkinson's disease.

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Director Statement

Presumed To Be A Virus (PTBAV) was originally a chapter of my Parkinson's disease project but with time I realized it needed to be an independent documentary. PTBAV is the product of the internet age with all the information acquired online and secondary imagery produced with computer programs. Traditional documentaries feature interviews and site location shots, but when investigating Von Economo's Encephalitis/
Encephalitis lethargica, all the witnesses are gone, the evidence has degraded and all that is left are hypotheses as to its cause. Like my Parkinson's disease documentary I did all the research, editing and narration.