A filmmaker talks with her brother during his recovery from opioid use disorder, shedding light on the origins of his addiction and our broken rehabilitation system.

Brother pub still animation
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
July 6, 2022
14:21 minutes
Funding Initiative
Short-Form Open Call
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2023 Webby Awards-Animation
  • Headshot of Joanna Rudnick

    Joanna Rudnick

    Joanna Rudnick is an Emmy-nominated and duPont Award-winning director and producer. Her films have broadcast on PBS, BBC, HBO, ShortsTV, and Al Jazeera America, as well as several other broadcasters around the world. Joanna enjoyed tenures at American Masters and Kartemquin Films. She received an MA in Science, Health & Environmental Journalism Show more from NYU. Show less

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    The Film

    In an attempt to understand her brother’s opioid use disorder, a filmmaker chronicles their phone conversations in which she hears her brother talk openly and honestly about the disease that threatens to take him away from her. The resulting short, animated documentary takes the audience inside the filmmaker’s intimate phone calls with her brother during his fragile recovery from opioid addiction. Their nonlinear conversation paints a detailed, uncensored picture of one person’s story of addiction—tracing his struggles back to the pain of a debilitating childhood learning disability followed by years lived on the hamster wheel of relapse and recovery under the stigmatizing shadow of the disease. 

    Both intensely personal and increasingly universal, Brother explores the individual toll and psychological origins of a descent into opioid use disorder and the tenacity necessary to break free and survive it. While the rehabilitation system doesn’t always make the distinction, there is a difference between surviving and thriving. Will her brother be given the tools for either? Together, the siblings address the human, familial, and personal toll of opioid addiction, while dispelling some of the most damaging tropes of addiction narratives and the disease of opioid use disorder.