#26 | Spreading Awareness Through Film with Ipek Ensari & Camille Hollett-French – Making It: Women in Film
Endometriosis is a condition that affects 1 in 10 menstruating people around the world – and yet so few people actually know about the condition, its symptoms, and nature. Scientific researcher Ipek Ensari and filmmaker Camille Hollett-French teamed up to direct Endomic – a short animated documentary spreading awareness about endometriosis, commited to peel away some of the ‘mysterious’ layers around the condition and make the science behind it accessible (and appealing) to a non-academic audience. “The science that we do should be for the people,” Ipek empathize as she talks about what a disservice it is that so much scientific research that is funded by taxpayers end up in academic journals and behind paywalls.
“It really opened my eyes […] to how strong of a marriage there is between science and art,”
So what is endometriosis exactly? As Camille, who was diagnosed with it in her mid-twenties, explains: “Endometriosis is a chronic health condition. It is where the tissue that is similar to the lining of your uterus, the endometrium, grows outside of your uterus and on other organs.” This can cause lesions that causes other organs to stick together and it also creates a type of cysts that are called endometriomas. One of the reasons that this is sometimes considered a ‘confusing’ condition is because many of its symptoms overlap with other health conditions – or might be shrugged off as exaggerated period pains. Some of these symptoms include:
— Pain in your lower tummy or back (pelvic pain) – usually worse during your period
— Period pain that stops you doing your normal activities
— Pain during or after sex
— Pain when peeing or pooing during your period
— Feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee during your period
— Difficulty getting pregnant
“It can also be something that people don’t even know about until doctors try to get to the bottom of fertility issues and then they realise that [the patient] has endometriosis.” Camille says. The stigma and lack of awareness of endometriosis also contributes to underdiagnoses, as it makes it even more difficult for patients to have their pain recognised.
“We need to not lose hope in our fight,”
Being drawn to the enigma of the condition and already having a focus on women’s health and equality within healthcare, Ipek began studying endometriosis in 2018/17. Now, she works to convert scientific research and give back to the people. She hadn’t expected to be drawn towards filmmaking, but she got a gut feeling and decided to to follow it. “There is a very natural, organic, and necessary conversation that occurs between science and the art of filmmaking,” Ipek says, reflecting on how we can promote awareness on health conditions affecting hundreds of million of people every day, “I have been publishing my research for years, but it is behind a paywall, you know nobody has access to it; nobody knows that it even exists! […] Even if they were to go past the paywall and read it, it’s not written in an accessible language, so nobody would understand.”
By transforming data in an entertaining and educating way, Ipek and Camille hope to spark conversations and make women conscious of what they might be experiencing. It isn’t uncommon for complaints about period pains to be neglected, or even made fun of. As mentioned, because it is such an underdiscussed issue, it makes other people less open to understanding and empathizing, in a kind of How come I have never heard of this if it’s so bad? way.
“We still have ways to go, but we are scratching the surface. I think progress is in the right direction, it is just that it is very slow. […] We are hoping that maybe with this film, we will expedite that a little bit,”
Learn more about endometriosis here:
You can listen to our full interview with the filmmakers on our podcast episode #26 | Spreading Awareness Through Film with Ipek Ensari & Camille Hollett-French now on all major podcast platforms (Spotify, Google, Apple, etc.) to learn more about their journey, endometriosis, and how you can use filmmaking as a way of bridging awareness on under represented issues. Look through the shownotes here.
Written by Malin Evita
Evita is the co-host and producer of the podcast, Instagram curator, and a writer focused on script, cultural commentary, and film analysis. She is a Vocal grand prize winner and currently studies Professional Writing Skills at college. Through storytelling, she aims to amplify empathy and human connectivity.