Celiac Disease is an Autoimmune Disease that can develop at any time, at any age, affecting 1 in 133 people. Wheat, Rye, and Barley are the main glutenous culprits to stay away from.
When someone with Celiac ingests gluten, the immune system sees it as an invader, but through mixed messages, attacks small intestine instead of gluten. This attack damages the villi that line the inner wall of the small intestine, leaving the body unable to absorb the proper nutrients it needs.
Undiagnosed Celiac Disease leads to malnourishment, anemia, osteoporosis, other autoimmune diseases, and a long list of other possible ailments.
*Michael Frolichstein is an experienced filmmaker who has decided to take it upon himself, with his wife Ellen’s help, to raise awareness about Celiac Disease through film. After struggling with the disease undiagnosed for 20 years, Michael and Ellen wanted to show the real ramifications of what Celiac Disease is capable of through the many stories of people this disease is affecting.
Q: What is “The Celiac Project?”
A professionally produced documentary film exploring the nuances of Celiac Disease in an accessible and compelling form. The film will raise eyebrows, drop jaws and impart an understanding of Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance as never before. We’re passionate about this project and most importantly, creating a community of people who want it to succeed.
Q: Why is it important to you to make this film?
A: Shortly after I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I experienced just about every emotion. Happiness, relief, sadness, anger….but I think, more than anything else, I was shocked that the diagnosis could have been so easy. If my doctor would have just known anything about this condition, he would have known to order a simple blood test…but he didn’t, so I struggled for over 20 years.
When I started talking to others with Celiac I was just blown away by the unbelievable stories that I heard–so many of them worse than mine. They were hospitalized, unable to keep food down, had multiple miscarriages and the list goes on and on. When I learned that 83% of Celiacs in this country are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with another condition, it was an absolute no-brainer to make this film.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish making this film?
A: I know this might sound like a total cliché, but if one person watches the film and thinks “that sounds a little like me,” gets tested and turns their life around, then I have accomplished what I set out to do. After I was diagnosed, I would have loved to have seen a film about this disease, but there was nothing out there. I read everything I could, which took up a lot of my time. I know that a film can be a powerful instrument for change.
By sharing peoples’ stories, I am trying to shine a light on a larger problem, that being that many people are still struggling in the shadows because Celiac Disease is still a hidden epidemic. My aim is to inform as many people as this film will reach.
Because I was well-informed, my daughter was diagnosed at age 3, our nephew at age 15 and they will both be able to avoid the Celiac related health issues that I faced. It’s bittersweet, but really it has been the best reward out of all of this! It is like a domino effect.
Q: What is one of the most surprising things you have found out during this process?
A: What has been most surprising to me is really how dire so many people’s lives were prior to being diagnosed. Kirsten, these were not people who I had to search very hard for at all. In fact, the first four people I interviewed had really dramatic stories that included major misdiagnosis and hospitalizations. Ironically, two of those people were medical doctors.
Despite the progress in medicine over the last fifty years, in regards to conditions that were almost always terminal, are now routinely treatable. I’m always shocked to hear that only around 17 percent of Celiacs in this country know they have the disease. It’s tragic and we have to find ways to bring the diagnosis rate way up.
Q: Why have you chosen to use Kickstarter and what are your plans for the money you raise?
A: I really believe that Kickstarter is the perfect place to gather support for, The Celiac Project, because we want to create a community around this. Independent filmmaking has changed a great deal since I went to film school. The beauty of a crowd funding platform like Kickstarter, is that people can get involved in the project at any level.
Sometimes it’s not even about opening your wallet, but instead just forwarding it on to your friend, family or others in your own community who might be interested this film being made. It’s a lot of work to make a film, but just knowing that there is a group of people out there supporting this and eagerly anticipating our film is what it is all about.
Up until now my wife Ellen and I have been, for the most part, a two person crew. We have also boot-strapped the production ourselves. To do this, we’ve scraped together whatever we can. Due to how the scope of the project has grown we need funds in many areas, the bulk of it being for post-production.
Because of my experience as a professional TV and film editor, we have been able to assemble an impressive team to work with us to get it finished. The funds we raise will pay for an animator, composer, colorist, audio mixer and editors. We have already done our interviews in the Midwest and need to travel to both coasts to get the remainder.
If we can reach our stretch goals, we would among other things like to, construct an interactive website that is a video driven hub and support center for those with Celiac, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and other gluten related disorders.
To Find Out More….
Here is a link to the campaign and video:
*How can you help? Pledge as much as is comfortable to you, but just as important help us to spread the word. We have just until May 12th to reach our funding goal.
*Calling all tweeters, Facebookers, Emailers and even Phone Users (you know who you are), every bit of chit-chat about our project will do wonders.