Submitted by Susan Abod:
Homesick: Living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is the journey of a woman with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) who goes on a road trip meeting others with this devastating illness in hopes of finding an ”environmentally safe” home for herself, and in the process, discovers a new, growing homeless population.
BACKSTORY: Twenty years ago I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). From that point on my life changed completely. MCS controls where I live, what I eat, what I wear, how much I can do, where I go, what I buy (or, more often, what I do not buy), even whom I hug.
During a time when I was very sick, I was inspired by an AIDS documentary entitled The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter (HBO, July, 1993). I wanted to make a film about my own experiences living and coping with CFIDS and MCS. Three years later, Funny You Don’t Look Sick, An Autobiography of an Illness premiered at the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston in front of over 200 people and now distributed by the Cinema Guild.
During the final editing of Funny You Don’t Look Sick, I began to ask myself how many others were going through this nightmare, too. How did they get sick? Were they having as much trouble as I was finding and keeping a safe place to live? How were they coping with such an overwhelming and often isolating condition? Did safer housing get them well? Was one area of the country safer to live in than another?
To answer these questions, I felt compelled to make another film that would expose the proliferation of this illness and explore the vital issue of safe housing as treatment and prevention for MCS. I also wanted to bring to light the increasing problem of another growing homeless population – those with MCS who cannot find a safe place to live – a search that can take years.
In 1997, I received an ADA grant from Very Special Arts and did the initial filming during a 6 week trip with professional camera woman, Laurel Greenberg. Because of my own health and housing problems, work on the film came to a grinding halt for the next five years. When I was able to resume work on the film, I completed a rough cut at NEWTV with help from Bradley Kimbrough, and in 2003 produced a fundraising trailer edited with the highly skilled, Richard Fomo of Jamaica Plain. View the Homesick trailer .
UPDATE: I moved to Santa Fe from Boston in 2004 in hopes of a safer environment/housing when I couldn’t find any other options in MA. The good news is I am currently living in a safer house, feeling better and am anxious to complete this film. As it turns out, this delay has offered me a unique opportunity to do a ten-year follow-up of the people I originally interviewed. To my knowledge, this has never been documented before.
I have received some small corporate sponsorships and am applying for a few grants- one is in New Mexico. By the way, there is alot of support of filmmakers in this area. There is the New Mexico Film Commission – offering discounts if you hire New Mexicans that are associated with the commission and there are several grants per year offered up to filmmakers. There is also an active chapter of New Mexico Women in Film. They just recently held a panel discussion of women in film for V day. Laurel Chiten was one of the panelists.
I found a young woman filmmaker Liz Norris who has agreed to help me finish this project!! So, hopefully by the end of this year it will finally be done and out there helping folks.
For more information about Funny You Don’t Look Sick please visit the web site.