Documentary 'Original Body of Pain' Paints Compassionate Portrait Of Opioid Crisis
With the national opioid epidemic in the spotlight, two Winston-Salem filmmakers are focusing their lens on mothers.
The film follows families and caregivers in Asheville facing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. NAS happens when babies are born exposed to substances.
The documentary, which is still in the final stages of production, is directed by Dom Silva and Stan Wright, both students of Wake Forest University’s documentary film program.
Stan Wright spoke with WFDD’s Eddie Garcia.
On what the film’s title, Original Body of Pain, means:
It's a term that our main character actually refers to as having learned in treatment. The way she describes it is basically there's this one inciting incident within a person who struggles with addiction’s life that leads them to further trauma, and she calls it an original body of pain...one of our main characters, her name is Joanna Christoph, she's a home health nurse, she talks about this adverse childhood experiences score, and it's a score that they use to determine a level of childhood trauma within a family.
So a lot of questions are asked including: 'Have you been abused physically or sexually? Has one of your parents died? Have you been raised without a parent? Has a parent been incarcerated? Has one of your family members struggled with alcoholism or drug abuse?' And there's this series of 10 questions that lead up to this ACEs score. And so it's just a nice fitting kind of segue into this larger conversation about some of the underpinnings of addiction, as well as a reference to something our character says in the film.
On gaining intimate access to the lives of the women in the film:
Obviously with a film of this nature you can't just go in blind and start asking people if they're addicted to drugs, or if they have substance abuse issues, and if they're pregnant. Our biggest advocates were the home nurses we were working with. These are the people that go into the home in the weeks and months after the baby's born to make sure that they're developing properly that the wean is going properly.
And so when they would go on their home visits, they would approach the families and say, 'Hey we have this project, it's a compassionate take on women who have gone through substance exposures and addiction and have kids. Would you like to be a part of it?' So we probably talked to 10, 12 women before we landed on the final three.
On the perception of those facing addiction vs. day-to-day reality:
A point of clarity, just for what we're doing with our film, is that we're working with recovering addicts. So these are people that were in treatment, were in counseling. These weren't people who were actively shooting up and using. I think that's important to say because it shows that there is hope, there is recovery for women who have gone through this. Even with children in the family.
The day-to-day realities are so much more jovial. A lot of the story of us going in and shooting with these homes - and I think we've shot over 30 times with one of our characters Ashley and her three boys - is water balloon fights, and birthday parties, and graduations. And there's a lot of happiness in the day-to-day that comes with the sobriety surrounding recovery, and the newfound ability for these women to really take in and appreciate what's around them and their families.
Ed. note: This story appeared earlier in a shortened form.
Ed. note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct name of the ACEs score.