Nearly 50 years after the polio vaccine was developed, the polio virus still attacks in the poorest corners of the planet. Reeltime, Evanston’s free film and discussion series, marks its tenth anniversary season by presenting two inspiring documentaries about the impact of polio: the Academy Award-nominated “The Final Inch” by Irene Taylor Brodsky and Mary M. Dalton’s “Martha in Lattimore.”  

This free event takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave.

Nominated for an Academy Award, the documentary “The Final Inch” (2008, 38 min.) by Irene Taylor Brodsky goes to the heart of global public health concerns: In the world’s most vulnerable places, the polio virus is poised to re-emerge and re-infect regions where it was stamped out decades ago. The first line of defense against such a re-occurrence is a vast army of health workers who go door-to-door in some of India’s poorest neighborhoods, ensuring every child is vaccinated. Their mission: to eradicate polio from the planet forever. “The Final Inch” is an homage to these heroic foot soldiers.

“The Final Inch” will be followed by Mary M. Dalton’s loving portrait, “Martha in Lattimore” (2005, 45 min). The first thing one notices about Martha Mason is the bright yellow iron lung that encases her body. This life-saving machine has helped her breathe since 1948, when she contracted polio at age 11. Martha, who died this year, lived in an iron lung longer than anyone else in the world. Gifted with a curious mind, strong sense of humor and loving community and attendants, Martha became a published author and the spirited center of Lattimore, her North Carolina hometown.

A post-screening discussion will be facilitated by Kris Tsau, Polio Advocacy Specialist, Rotary International. Co-presented with Rotary International.