GRANT 171:

Out of My Head

12/14/2015

A film that dissects the history and mystery of the migraine.

Do you get migraines? You know, those eye-throbbing, head-exploding, pulsing sensations that are possibly accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light, sound and/or touch. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Over 300 million people are affected by migraines worldwide and 75% of those affected are women. The United Nations estimates that in Europe alone, 190 million workdays are lost to migraines, costing $155 billion Euros per year. The symptoms vary – some people experience hallucinations, some have stroke-like symptoms, some endure crippling pain and are bedridden for days. Others suffer the psychic pain of isolation, stigmatization, and fear and anxiety induced by the total unpredictability of them. Migraines are a neurological disease, but they are much more than that.

Award-winning filmmakers Susanna Styron and Jacki Ochs have set out to produce a feature documentary called Out of My Head that dissects the history and mystery of the migraine. It turns out that the intense pain and peculiar manifestations of migraines have had a remarkable impact on creativity and culture. From Alice’s utterances in Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland to Patti Smith’s epic poem Birds of Iraq, the work of artists influenced by its symptoms has elevated the migraine from simply a disease to a kind of metaphysical interloper, affecting our perception of the world. In the film, viewers will be deeply affected by the portraits of the migraineurs, and intrigued by the remarkable investigations that neuroscientists are pursuing in an effort to understand how migraines work, as it permeates our culture.

The team has been deep in editing and will use our AWB grant to film a cutting-edge research neuroscientist interview and laboratory visit. To learn more about this fascinating film, visit their website, Facebook, and Twitter pages. If you’re interested in helping the team get to the finish line, you can support here