On June 14, Becoming Incurable, a U.S. Pain-sponsored documentary, premiered to a sold-out crowd of more than 200 people in Sacramento, CA. Directed by Victoria Suan, the film portrays the complex lives of three individuals living with severe, chronic illnesses and how their worlds completely transformed as soon as their illnesses began.
The film is especially important to Suan, as her cousin, Leo Suan, is one of the three individuals profiled in the feature-length film. In fact, seeing his abrupt transformation after his dystonia diagnosis began was the catalyst for the film. Sofia Webster, who lives with Lyme disease, and Charis Hill, who lives with ankylosing spondylitis, are also featured in the film. Suan wanted individuals to see how drastically and quickly an individual’s life can change as a result of severe chronic illness.
Victoria answered some questions regarding the film.
Why do you feel it is important for everyone to see?
Suan: Right now, millions of Americans living with incurable illness are experiencing isolation. This is one of the themes I explored within Charis, Leo, and Sofia’s stories. The film has the power to reach people familiar with this kind of isolation and to let them know that they are not alone. It’s crucial for people with underrepresented illnesses, like the ones in this film, to have a platform to spread awareness around their stories. Otherwise, who would hear them? I think the film also serves as a window for healthy, able-bodied people to look into the aftermath of a severe illness diagnosis.
How can ambassadors host a screening of the film in their area?
Suan: Becoming Incurable has been launched on Tugg, a platform that lets you screen movies in your community! Those who want to conduct a screening can do so in two ways: you can choose to set up a screening at your local theater OR in your local community center or campus. We will have a discussion guide available, tip videos to help you promote your screening event, and a Tugg representative will assist you throughout the process!
What do you hope individuals without chronic pain can learn from the documentary?
Suan: I hope people living without pain can be inspired to advocate for others living with pain in both social and medical settings, and that they will be inspired to celebrate the progress being made in the lives of people living with chronic pain/illness. In the film, I showcased the progress and wins achieved by Charis, Leo, and Sofia as they were navigating life post-diagnosis. Those achievements may not look the same when you compare them to people living without chronic illness/pain, but they deserve to be celebrated. Those moments can redefine the chronic illness journey in big ways.
When speaking to Victoria about the film, she is still overwhelmed with what this film has achieved so far. Suan says: “These stories have touched people in profound ways and in that sense, I feel like I’ve touched everyone, too. Although it’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words, all I can say is that I’m extremely grateful! On a personal note, I really want to thank the U.S. Pain Foundation for believing in this film and supporting me since 2017. I also want to thank California Northstate University for coming on board as another financial supporter to help us complete the film. The music in the film which was composed by Casey Groat, a Sacramento-based musician who leads a band called Fashionista Boyfriend. He did an amazing job of creating evocative music for the film.”