The Pain of Others

The Pain of Others

Penny Lane | 
US |
 2018 | 
71 minutes

Using found footage and YouTube testimonials, The Pain of Others examines Morgellons, a mysterious illness that many medical professionals are quick to dismiss as a delusional or psychogenic disorder. But thousands of people around the world claim they have the syndrome, including singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. Candid home-videos made by three women who suffer from the illness describe the feeling of parasites crawling under their skin, long coloured fibers emerging from lesions, and a host of other bizarre symptoms. Penny Lane juxtaposes footage of the women demonstrating the many, sometimes disturbing, ways they self-diagnose and cope—alongside that of skeptical medical professionals. 

Longtime DOXA filmgoers may remember Penny Lane’s previous work, including The Voyagers (DOXA 2011), Our Nixon (DOXA 2014), and Nuts! (DOXA 2016). The Pain of Others, in keeping with Lane’s curious and empathetic approach, remains open to what other people might see as freakish or grotesque. By recontextualizing YouTube footage, Lane creates a controlled and mediated viewing experience. The result isn’t so much a conclusion about the validity of the illness, but rather a radical push towards active listening, understanding, and acceptance. -SC


Penny Lane

Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2012, Penny Lane has been making experimental nonfiction films since 2004. She has been awarded grants from Creative Capital, the Sundance Institute, Chicken & Egg, Cinereach, TFI Documentary Fund, Jerome Foundation, LEF Foundation, Rooftop Films, Catapult Film Fund, New York State Council on the Arts, Experimental Television Center, IFP and the Puffin Foundation. Her work includes: NUTS! (Sundance 2016, Special Jury Prize for Editing, wide release through Amazon), her debut feature documentary OUR NIXON (Rotterdam, SXSW, the Ken Burns Award for “Best of the Festival” at Ann Arbor, Closing Night Film at New Directors/New Films, distributed by CNN Films). She is currently an Associate Professor of Art and Art History at Colgate University. And yes, Penny Lane is her real name.