The documentary filmmaker talks about picking her subjects and investigating the strange allure of online communities in her body-horror doc.
Welcome back to More of a Comment, Really…, a weekly interview show hosted by Clint Worthington! Every episode will feature interviews with actors, filmmakers, producers, and more, giving you the skinny on the latest films and TV.
Documentary filmmaker Penny Lane often focuses on the abject and unconventional, from three White House aides’ view of Richard Nixon in Our Nixon to the cult of personality around famous early 20th-century huckster Dr. John Romulus Brinkley in her excellent doc Nuts!. Her latest, The Pain of Others, focuses on a horrifyingly contemporary concern: the power of the Internet to both amplify existing paranoias and create self-affirming communities for those fears to exist.
The subjects of Lane’s doc are three women – all older, all relatively isolated – with a delusional belief in a mysterious skin condition called Morgellons, characterized by mysterious itching and strange fibers that grow out of their skin. There is no scientific evidence that Morgellons exists, and mainstream medicine largely relegates it to the level of conspiracy theory. But for these women, it’s real, and they have the Youtube videos to prove it. Lane’s doc is a fascinating exploration of body horror, and the lengths to which the Internet and social media can legitimize even the wildest worldviews, as long as there’s passionate people with a platform to boost the signal.
For the podcast, Clint sits down with Lane to talk about Morgellons, her doc, and her observations of her deeply fascinating subjects. Take a listen to the full podcast below, and stream The Pain of Others on Fandor.