“Being young and chronically ill is incredibly lonely. When I first became ill aged eighteen, I had to drop out of university and I spent the subsequent year in bed, isolated from friends and unable to experience much of life. I felt like an alien; different from my peers and sitting on the sidelines.
During this time, going online was a lifeline. Access to social media connected me with the outside world and showed me that there were actually loads of other young disabled people out there. Slowly, I formed the seed of “ill, actually”, a blurry idea for a short film about chronic illness and young disabled identity. Over three years, I worked with Zoe, the film’s director, to develop the idea.
As we spoke to over a hundred chronically ill young people during pre-production, it quickly became clear that this relationship with the internet wasn’t mine alone: for so many of the young people we spoke to, the internet provided community and connection. But in other ways, it created a feeling of FOMO and a sense of even greater isolation. We wanted to investigate this tension.
I hope that the unLonely audience finds some comfort or resonance in “ill, actually”. It’s been interesting to see how the film has taken on a whole new meaning during the pandemic, since all of us -disabled or not- have in this strange, disembodied time, had a taste of how it feels to be isolated from the wider world.”
-Celestine Fraser, producer
Zoe is an award-winning writer and director. Her work has been broadcast on the BBC, funded by the BFI, programmed at the Barbican and performed at theatres such as the Arcola and the New Diorama. Most recently, Zoe wrote and directed short fiction film Some Kind of Window which won Script 6’s This Covid Life competition and played at BIFA qualifying festivals in September 2021. Pre-pandemic, her 30 min long creative documentary Our Fathers was commissioned by the BBC & the SDI and premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in February 2020. Her previous BBC & BFI funded short film, ill, actually screened at BAFTA qualifying festivals. Her debut fiction film, Lara, screened at Manchester Kino Film Festival & Ealing Film Festival. Her first play, “Cecilia”, was produced at the Kings Head and shortlisted for the Yale Drama Prize. “Gap in the Light”, her collaboration with Engineer Theatre, was Off-West-End nominated, and her play “Laird” was shortlisted for production by the Traverse Theatre. She has been part of numerous writers’ residencies and is a BAFTA x BFI writer/director. She is currently working with Celestine (“ill, actually”‘s producer) on her second fiction short, “BETTER”, a film exploring ableism and sibling relationships.
Zoe’s Website | Glowworm Film’s Website
Hannah Eugénie Tookey Creative Producer & Fundraiser
Filmmaker’s Instagram | Producer’s Instagram