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Still from The Pain of Others, 2018. 71 mins. Directed by Penny Lane

The Pain of Others

by Christy LeMaster

I am delighted to welcome nonfiction filmmaker Penny Lane to the MCA this week to present her recent work, The Pain of Others. In just five years, Lane conceived and directed three compelling and inventive documentaries that depart from traditional documentary tactics in favor of more affective and engaging structures. Using forms that comment on the topic at hand and crafting specific points of view, Lane reshapes how we experience popular documentary. Her movies focus on subjects with broad-base appeal, like reality television and space travel, but offer viewers unconventional angles into these familiar stories.

In 2013, Lane and producer Brian L. Frye resurrected Super 8 archives—filmed by Nixon White House aides H. R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Dwight Chapin from the National Archives—to create Our Nixon, an intimate look into the infamous presidency. She then turned to animation to tell the story of Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, a Depression-era American con man who garnered massive wealth selling a highly suspect goat testicle impotence cure in NUTS!

Lane leans into body horror genres to make The Pain of Others. Culling YouTube clips of women dealing with the mysterious disease Morgellons, Lane created an empathetic portrait of individuals suffering from unexplainable symptoms—the feeling of creatures crawling under the skin and thin fibers growing from inside the body—and looking for comfort and affirmation.

Presented in the final week of our summer exhibition I Was Raised on the Internet, Lane's newest feature puts the voyeuristic nature of online communities front and center and prompts us to explore the boundaries of empathy in ubiquitous and mediated online space. Watch the trailer below and join us on October 12 to experience The Pain of Others.

The Pain of Others video still

Video Trailer