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An honest and affecting portrait of addiction, the US director Joanna Rudnick’s short film Brother chronicles her late brother Matthew Rudnick’s long struggle with opioid dependancy. Reconnecting with Matthew after years of estrangement, Rudnick centres her film on a series of frank phone conversations. In these exchanges, Matthew details how a lifelong feeling of difference, financial problems and a painkiller prescription led him down a destructive path to heroine addiction – a perpetual struggle that came to define his adult life. Melding visual styles, including rotoscope animation and archival footage, and incorporating Matthew’s passion for the cosmos, Rudnick explores how even an acute understanding of the root causes of one’s own addiction and a deep desire to quit sometimes aren’t enough to move past it. In doing so, she and Matthew make a powerful case for a patient-centred approach to the opioid epidemic, focused on harm reduction.
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