University of Ottawa
HBO Documentary Film
Directed by Lauren Greenfield
Produced by R.J. Cutler, Lauren Greenfield, Amanda Micheli and Ted Skillman
In her compelling and provocative first film, Thin, Lauren Greenfield turns her focus on disordered eating. In the past two decades, eating disorders have reached epidemic levels in America. Once downplayed as diseases of fashion or vanity, they are now recognized as serious mental illnesses that cause immeasurable suffering to those afflicted, their families and friends.
The film focuses on four young women struggling with anorexia: Brittany, a 15 year-old who is convinced that being thin is the only way to gain acceptance among her peers, and who sadly learned much of her disordered eating behaviour from her own mother; Shelly, 25, who has been battling anorexia for six years, and who enters Renfrew with a feeding tube surgically implanted in her stomach; Alisa, 30, a divorced mother of two whose hatred of her body is manifested in her relentless compulsion to purge; and Polly, 29, who, despite years spent in and out of treatment, insists on bucking the Center’s rules at every turn. In following their stories, we come to learn that each woman’s fight for recovery is unique. Some will sabotage their own treatment; others will make significant strides; and still others will make progress. What emerges is a portrait of an illness that is frustrating in its complexity and devastating in the pain it inflicts on its sufferers and those who care for them.
Unflinching and incisive, Thin offers an experiential and emotional journey through the world of eating disorders and, ultimately, provides a greater understanding of their complexity: that they are not simply about food or body image or self-esteem, but a tangle of personal, familial, and cultural issues extremely difficult to unravel.