Do you know your neighbors? How’s your sense of community? Do you have friends to confide in? These are the questions asked in DISCONNECTED, the documentary I most recently directed and produced.
Here’s my statement and how the film came to be:
Before making this film, I had been aware of the concept of community wellbeing, but I never really thought too much about it, and I definitely didn’t think it was a key factor in achieving optimal health. As as result, in my decade’s work as a wellness professional, I advised my clients that health was defined by two things: what we ate and how much we exercised. But all of that changed after a trip to the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. Rob (my good friend and Director of Photography) and I stayed a few nights in a small mountain camp, outfitted with just the basics for simple village life.
The purpose of the trip was to learn from the local population about food, nutrition and sustainable living, but what really overwhelmed us was the profound sense of community. Despite lacking material possessions that most of us place such high value on, the people of this village seemed happy, healthy and really connected to one another. This made me wonder — How do people in North America feel about their sense of community and connectedness? And what, if any, effect does this have on our overall wellbeing? These questions inspired me to direct and produce DISCONNECTED.
As I met with experts in economic, social and urban planning, I discovered how multifaceted this idea of community wellbeing is, and how crucial it is to our existence. There are great benefits to being able to come together, but there are also ill effects that stem from community breakdown. Unfortunately, these effects — such as loneliness and social isolation — are being labeled as epidemics, epidemics that may become one of society’s biggest challenges of the 21st century. Making this film has changed my definition of what it really means to be healthy – physically, emotionally, and socially.
My hope is that by watching this film people will reflect on the idea that to be well, we need to find ways to come together. The health of society as a whole depends on it.
– Tamer Soliman, Director