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religious belief

religious belief

Off Label - Official trailer

1y ago


Documentary film by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, 2012, 80' Off Label uses the personal stories of human guinea pigs -- those who test and take pharmaceutical drugs -- as a launching pad for a deeper exploration into the ways these drugs are marketed, sold, consumed, and ultimately treated with the same reverence as a religious belief in the United States. The film examines the medicated margins of the country -- from the testing, marketing, and consumption of pharmaceuticals to the alienation, perseverance, and spiritual striving of eight unique individuals living in a society that pathologizes our desires for health, happiness, and even our sense of identity for profit. In Iowa City a 22 year old army medic last stationed at Abu Ghraib prison struggles with the VA to find treatment to cope with PTSD. In Minneapolis a woman fights for reform after her son commits grisly suicide in an anti-depressant marketing study. In Rochester a young vagabond couple pay for their wedding by doing drug trials for money. In Santa Cruz a woman takes eighteen different prescriptions and lives in a roadside Bigfoot Museum. In Philadelphia an aging African American Muslim recounts the horrific experiments conducted upon him while he was imprisoned and forgives those who destroyed his physical health. In Milwaukee an eccentric medical anthropologist tracks the course and influence of the drug market he once helped shape as a former drug rep for Pfizer. These are some of the stories collected in Off Label -- a tragic and often bleakly comic look at life in the twilight zone of pharmaceutical drug consumption and American health care. The film incorporates a multitude of visual styles and presents deeply personal stories set against a uniquely American landscape haunted by the ever-present commercialization of medicine and personal identity. The soundtrack is based around No Depression In Heaven, the famous Carter family song from the era of the traveling medicine show that deals directly with issues of social anxiety, depression, happiness, and ultimately, faith in God. Multiple variations of the song are echoed throughout the film through an original score by the filmmakers, providing an emotional and historical context that reflects the struggles of the subjects and the issues at the heart of the project. These issues are not simply taking place in the world outside of us, but within our minds and bodies. Welcome to the strange pharmacy that is America.