Do you ever feel like we are shoved to the sidelines in life? That we are forced to either live an isolated existence or suffer the consequences of exposures to chemical irritants? I do. Sometimes, when reading the news or partaking in popular culture activities—via the internet, reading online newspapers, TV and media streaming—I have to wonder, why don’t people care about us? Are we really that invisible? Why is it we need to fight for access and accommodations for even the most basic of services? What is going on is not normal (yes, possibly, sadly, it’s our normal) and it’s not okay. But then I notice that change and awareness are happening:
The Sensitives – a feature documentary by filmmaker and cinematographer Drew Xanthopoulos is a film project about people trying to live their lives with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Xanthopoulos first saw the shocking yet heart-rendering images in Thilde Jenson’s book, Canaries—photos that many of us who are sensitive to chemicals can relate to—and even he couldn’t get them out of his head. We all remember the mask-clad woman crouching down below the vaporising fumes trying to put petrol in her car; we all wished she had someone to fill the tank for her.
Even though Xanthopoulos has no personal history, nor does he personally know anyone with this illness, those images were seared into his mind. He was so inspired, he drove to an MCS community in Arizona trying to track down people with MCS and film their stories. He now has enough footage and is trying to raise much-needed funds to edit it via Kickstarter. So far, there are 79 backers with nearly 7 k raised. They need 50 k. Every little bit helps. If you would like to see this film edited and released, please donate by clicking here.
The stories of The Sensitives will raise empathy and awareness for those struggling with chronic illnesses like Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and others with misunderstood disabilities…
As someone with no prior personal connection to this illness, I was compelled to take on this challenging project, to eventually get past the masks and foil-lined rooms to meet the artists, social workers, and grandparents inside. This is what I intend The Sensitives to show: the ordinary people driven to the fringes because of a very misunderstood condition.
My greatest hope for this project would be to spark meaningful discussions about how we think about illness and health and inspire more research for a community that badly needs it.
What remains is developing the most compelling story in a timely way, funding post-production, and finding an audience for the films, first at festivals and later, if possible, through broadcast and digital platforms. Our initial goal of $50,000 will bring us to a rough cut and open doors immediately after but there’s a good deal of funding to raise after that to bring us to a final cut and for distribution.
However, as we continue to apply to grants and foundations we’re confident that the momentum we gain with this Kickstarter campaign will speak worlds to those potential funders down the line.
Our encouragement and support from outstanding groups like Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Artist Services, Independent Film Project, the Austin Film Society and others will help us mitigate, if not remove entirely, the risks and challenges of finding the audience for the film.
More MCS Coverage
The Great Leap Sideways: The Visible Edge of an Invisible Trauma
New at The Labyrinth: Check out MCS International TV!
Adelaide’s Girl in the Bubble: Amelia Hill is a prisoner in her bedroom — allergic to the modern world