Discovering the Discovery and the Grandfather Who Saved Millions

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A Documentary Film Produced by Carl Sigmond

About the project...

In his forthcoming film, Discovering the Discovery and the Grandfather Who Saved Millions, Carl Sigmond, a senior and Computer Science Major at Haverford College, takes us on a journey of memory, documenting the life and legacy of his grandfather, Albert Schatz, who discovered streptomycin, the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis.  Sigmond’s grandfather was a 23-year-old graduate student at Rutgers University in 1943 when he made this groundbreaking discovery.  His antibiotic, streptomycin, cured not only tuberculosis, but was a treatment for tularemia, the black plague, as well as other gram-negative infectious diseases for which there was no cure.  Following Schatz’s discovery, his research advisor, Selman Waksman, stole the credit and won the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for Schatz’s work.

Sigmond spent the summer of 2012 shooting a feature-length documentary that explores his grandfather’s story.  He wanted to document personal memories of a man who made such an important gift to humanity.  Sigmond spent much time with his grandfather when he was growing up and knew that his grandfather made a huge personal impact on so many people’s lives - not just by discovering streptomycin, but by being the warm, loving, and funny person he was.  Sigmond wanted to record some of these important memories and share them through the medium of film.

In October 2012, Sigmond showed a rough cut of his film to the Haverford College community during Family and Friends Weekend. Click here to read more about the event. This spring, Sigmond took an advanced documentary production course with Vicky Funari at Haverford, during which he and Haverford senior Gebby Keny continued developing the film. They now have a solid introduction for the film, which can be viewed below.

Together with recent Swarthmore College graduate Zein Nakhoda and recent Haverford College graduate Larry Miller, Sigmond travelled through New Jersey, New York and New England for eight days, filming interviews with people who knew and admired his grandfather and with people who had researched his story.  Among those Sigmond interviewed was Peter Berger, former park ranger at the Vermont campground where his grandparents went camping every summer for twenty years.  Sigmond also interviewed Peter Pringle, author of Experiment Eleven, the first book-length account that documents Schatz’s life and his discovery of streptomycin.  To read Sigmond’s account of his eight-day interview tour, click here, and click below to watch a slideshow from the tour.

In the spring of 2012, Sigmond took a documentary film production course at Haverford College, during which he and two classmates produced Discovering Albert, a ten-minute documentary about his grandfather.  For this endeavor, Sigmond interviewed family members, friends, and those who worked with his grandfather.  Discovering Albert was selected for inclusion in the Tri-Co (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges) Film Festival and won the Best Coursework Film Award when it was shown at the festival, which was held at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute in Bryn Mawr, PA on May 2, 2012.

For more information, please check out the following articles:

For more information, please contact Carl Sigmond.