DENIED




12:00 min
Documentary
Director: Julie Winokur
Producer: Julie Winokur

Winner of the JURY AWARD

ABOUT THE FILM

When I met Sheila Wessenberg, she was living the American nightmare.

She had a potentially fatal illness, but because she was uninsured her life seemed expendable.

She said to me, “There is no reason why anyone should be shoved into homelessness and helplessness just to live.” She was referring to the fact that she could only get publicly funded health care if she gave up her home and her car. In the meantime, her doctor had abandoned her and she had already gone seven months with no chemotherapy.

I was so horrified by the real-life cost of poor public policy that I became obsessed with all the “Sheilas” whose lives were on the line. I realized Sheila could be any one of us - could even be me. I wanted to shout from the highest rafter that she was being dealt one of the greatest injustices I had witnessed in the 20 years I’d been a journalist. 

We first published Shelia’s story in The New York Times Magazine. Readers were so shocked by her suffering that they donated over $50,000 in order to help the family stay afloat. Next, we published Sheila’s story in a book and exhibition called Denied, which was shared on Capitol Hill and toured to state capitols across the country.

But our work wasn’t done because U.S. health care policy hadn’t budged an inch. We decided we had to tell Sheila’s story in film so even more people could see the shocking truth. Considering the raging debate on health care reform in Washington now, inclusion in the Media That Matters Film Festival couldn’t be more relevant or more urgent.

RELATED CATEGORIES

economic justice, family & society, gender / women, health / health advocacy, human rights, politics / government, Media That Matters 10,
Creative Commons License: Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivative Works

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