It’s been a little over a year since the documentary Dirty Laundry premiered at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. Since then, it has awed audiences at 11 additional film festivals across the country.
Kansas City Film Festival, St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, Newport Beach Film Festival — the list goes on. But each time, the overwhelming response was one of solemn shock.
“Viewers who had very little background on the issue [of asbestos] were struck with the injustice and you could see the wheels turning in their heads, wondering the potential of the interaction of asbestos in their lives,” said Conor Lewis, one of the film’s creators.
The reaction was a bit different among those who had backgrounds with asbestos or mesothelioma.
“[They] were overwhelmed in a different way, with gratitude for sharing ’their’ story and for bringing this story to light in a different way than had been done before,” said Conor. “With how marginalized these people have been, it seems that giving them a voice has had a huge impact.”
A Busy Year Changing Lives
When Conor and his cousin Zack Johnson set out to create the documentary, they had no idea the influence it would have on their lives. Creating the film was impactful enough — meeting and talking with people like Jordan Zevon, whose father Warren Zevon died from mesothelioma, and Linda Reinstein, a mesothelioma widow and co-founder/CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO).
Conor and Zack got all of these encounters on film. They pieced the moments together to tell the story of countless families across the country. They titled it Dirty Laundry.
“The biggest thing in our life to happen [in the past year] is we’ve been welcomed into a new family,” said Conor. “It’s a beautiful family that we’re grateful for, but we wish we didn’t have: those affected by asbestos.”
2019 Alan Reinstein Award Recipients and GAAW
That family is honoring Conor and Zack for their dedication to sharing the stories of those affected by asbestos. Both men are 2019 recipients of ADAO’s Alan Reinstein Award. The award is given to those with exceptional commitment to education, advocacy and support for countless patients and families around the world.
“What an amazing opportunity for two young dudes who for the most part weren’t sure what they were getting into,” said Conor about receiving the award. “We’re so grateful for people sharing the darkest part of their lives with us; it’s hard to ever think about anyone getting honored but them.”
As part of Global Asbestos Awareness Week, the pair is also serving as ADAO ambassadors as part of the charity’s global initiative to educate the public about the dangers of asbestos. Check out ADAO’s Day 3 GAAW post for more info about Conor and Zack and follow along on social with the #2019GAAW hashtag.
How to View the Film
Do you want to watch Dirty Laundry and witness the life-changing impact for yourself? The best place to view the film is Conor and Zack’s website: http://asbestos.movie. You can also rent the film on Vimeo’s on-demand platform at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/asbestosmovie.
For more updates on the film and its creators, follow them on social media: @asbestosmovie on all platforms.
Editor’s Note: This is Day 4 in Simmons Hanly Conroy’s “7 Reasons for 7 Days” blog series, in which we honor the lives of men and women who have fought bravely against the scourge of asbestos. This series is part of an overarching effort to recognize and build awareness about the dangers of asbestos during Global Asbestos Awareness Week. Follow along with the conversation online with the hashtag #2019GAAW.