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.

Funding Initiative
Short-Form Open Call

Joanna Rudnick

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