Bess O’Brien’s new documentary film

The new documentary film on eating disorders is currently in production and is slated to be released in Spring/Summer 2016. Click below to see a short trailer of what Director Bess O’Brien has shot so far!

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For more information contact Bess O’Brien at 

More about the film

doc_2015-10Bess O’Brien will direct a feature length documentary film focused on the lives of women, girls and some boys who are caught in the downward spiral of eating disorders and their struggle to regain a sense of self-compassion and healing. The film will focus on body image, a lack of connection with one’s physical and emotional being and the need to delve deep within one’s self to find the systemic reasons that triggered this disease.

Eating Disorders which include Bulimia, Anorexia, restricted eating and Binge Eating are one of the most hidden forms of addiction and disease in our society. Certainly in Vermont we rarely discuss these issues.  Eating Disorders are one of the hardest addictions to treat and to cure. The percentage of young girls who start dieting as young as 10-12 years of age has risen dramatically over the last fifteen years in our country. Women are inundated with images that promote “thinness” and many women can become obsessed with their body types to the point of taking unhealthy control of their eating habits. Boys are also being affected by mass media depictions of male bodies.

The film however, will not simply focus on the media culture that girls and boys are overwhelmed with, but will also delve into discovering the internal and systemic reasons for eating disorders such as low self esteem, a lack of self compassion and sense of isolation that many young girls, boys and women feel.  There is also a profound lack of connection to one’s physical body that happens with eating disorders—women detach from their inner physical, soulful self and fixate on their appearance only—what is this about? How did women get to this place? What trigger pushed them to stop eating? Why does this control of food become so critical to survive? What are the immediate external issues that are pushing girls to take control of their lives by controlling their eating? How does our culture of driven perfection play into all this? How can we provide prevention and intervention to young girls who are susceptible to this disease? How do we bring girls and women back into their bodies in a meditative, inclusive way that grounds them and empowers them, offering a sense of wholeness rather than division?

doc_2015-2          Project Description:

Bree Greenberg runs the Vermont Center for Integrative Therapy in Burlington, VT. Her treatment center focuses on eating disorders. The film will focus on her patients and the innovative work that she is doing to treat girls and women with eating disorders. Bree is an expert in the field and believes that in order to heal these women and girls one must take a holistic approach to treatment. Bree’s work includes not only talk therapy but in-depth work to bring these women back into their bodies through interventions including meditation, yoga, acupuncture and group therapy.

The film will follow a number of girls and women who are struggling with an eating disorder. Filmmaker Bess O’Brien will interview them and follow their process as they experience Bree’s program. The film will also interview parents who are struggling with their young girls (as young as 12) who are in the throes of this addiction. How do parents manage this devastating disease that their children are going through and what have they done to help them? What answers do parents have to share with us?

The film will search for the systemic reasons for each patient’s struggle. It might be the societal, cultural or family pressures forced upon girls and women that trigger their need to control their lives and regain power. It may be the very real instances of trauma such as sexual assault, family trauma, bullying that also can often offset an eating disorder. The movie will also explore the often naïve steps that many young girls and women take of simply beginning a diet that then spirals out of control into an addictive obsession.

Athletes are also susceptible to eating disorders and a skewed sense of body image so we will look to include young women who are athletes who are struggling with their own particular eating disorders.


We know that telling your story helps heal people. The girls, boys, women and parents who will be involved with this documentary will be asked to raise their voices and speak out about this very invisible addiction.  Through their stories they will move forward in their healing process and they will impact audiences and raise consciousness throughout the state on this important issue.

Eating disorders are an addiction that we often do not perceive as an addiction because it is the process of depriving oneself of the basic human need: to eat. But anorexia, bulimia and binging are ways to fill a hole in one’s self—in the same way that drugs fill a hole of depression, anger, anxiety, despair. Eating disorders stem from a feeling of “I’m not good enough” and like drug addiction, not eating somehow makes the person feel that they have a coping skill to relieve the pain—not eating is the one way to control a part of you that feels lost. And like drug addiction, the beginning of an eating disorder can spiral into a full blown crisis where not eating food becomes the overriding obsessive monster that takes over one’s life.

Project Schedule: The time-line will be: Winter/Spring 2015—Begin shooting. Summer/Fall 2015 Editing.  Winter/Spring 2016 tour film throughout Vermont and into schools.

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