In the ’80s, when his girls were about 2 and 3 years old, Dad brought home a video camera. His precocious little girls with fuzzy blond hair and his beautiful wife were his subjects. They were bundles of energy, happiness and cuteness.
Soon, the youngest girl, Jamie, took control of the machine and recorded the family through time. Little did she know she was making a remarkable record of a tragedy that not only happened to her family but to over 16 million people worldwide (Public Health Institute, 2023).
Jamie’s slightly older sister, Jordan, saw Kristi Yamaguchi win the Olympic skating medal in 1992 and was inspired. Dogged drive, determination and compulsion led her to get close to an Olympic bid. Her mother took on flexible-time cleaning jobs so she could drive her to practices, and competitions while still helping to finance the ever more expensive skating outfits and competition opportunities. Jamie video-taped it all.
She also filmed Jordan falling, unable to bear the pain on her ankles from jumps. Jordan went to a doctor who prescribed pain medication. After a while, the medication was not enough and she needed something stronger. Then she started having pelvic pain and needed ever more potent medication.
At the same time, Mom needed a pain reliever and then began to develop what was thought rheumatoid arthritis, which also demanded ever stronger medicine.
Jamie films the doctor and hospital visits and the advise from the medical staff. Finally, after the ordeal ends, she films an interview with an ex-Purdue Pharmacy sales representative to learn how both her mother and sister, fully under medical care, could become drug addicts.
I hope Jamie takes this film to a lawyer and I hope it has been part of the settlement with Purdue Pharmacy and the Sackler family. What happened to her family happened to thousands of American families. It is the story of the perfidious Purdue-developed and marketed oxycontin, a drug that leaves you wanting more and more until you become debilitated.
Jamie Boyle was not unaffected by her family’s disintegration. But early on she became an award-winning filmmaker. This documentary reveals her family’s ordeal. “Anonymous Sister” is critically acclaimed and one of the most moving documentaries of all time.
Where to see:
Monday, July 17 at The Strand, Rockland,
Wednesday, Aug. 9 at The Avalon Theatre, Washington, DC
Available On Demand everywhere by October 2023
Distributed by Long Shot Factory
Presented by Big Mouth Productions
Co-Produced by Vulcan Productions
Directed, Produced, Filmed and Edited by Jamie Boyle
Produced by: Marilyn Ness, Elizabeth Westrate
Executive Produced by: Jody Allen, Ruth Johnston, Rocky Collins, Jannat Gargi, Katy Drake Bettner, Tiger Tale Productions, Dana Dicarlo, Julie Stampler
Composer: Saul Simon MacWilliams
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