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Six individuals of different ages, from different walks of life on different continents face an early demise from the health hazards of chronicloneliness and isolation. They are saved by a handful of people who are discovering that a global epidemic of loneliness is killing millions of us as fast as smoking or obesity.
A refugee, A CEO, A young YouTuber, A trans woman aging with HIV/AIDS, A widower in Japan.
What do they have in common? They are all suffering from chronic loneliness. 9 million in the United Kingdom; 43 million in the US; incalculable more worldwide.
In the past decade medical experts have discovered that chronic loneliness and isolation is causing heart disease, inflammation and early cognitive decline. It’s killing us as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It’s a modern epidemic that is spreading rapidly. It affects young people more than old, couples more than singles; and, connectivity and social media is making it worse.
At the same time the tech and aging industries encourage us to isolate more.
Governments are beginning to step in. A United States Surgeon General has made loneliness one of his primary causes. In January, Prime Minister Theresa May appointed the first Minister of Loneliness to address the impact the epidemic is having in the care system.
Against this backdrop we spend a year with a handful of people facing an early demise from chronic loneliness and isolation. Each person pulls themselves back from a point of no return sometimes through the help of others, sometimes through sheer will. They each put a face on a different group of people particularly vulnerable to the epidemic yet they discover a very real solution to their own loneliness. But the question remains, can millions of us follow their lead before it’s too late?
Stu Maddux is American freelance writer, editor, and cinematographer. He is an award winning movie producer and director of his own nonfiction independent films. He is best known for his work Gen Silent, a documentary about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender older people who hide their sexuality or gender change in order to survive in the longterm care system. He also wrote and produced Queer Ghost Hunters (Hunting Queer Ghosts) and Reel In The Closet. His work has been featured internationally on television including on Showtime, TLC, and the BBC. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, VICE and NPR’s Morning Edition among others. Maddux’s honors include seven regional Emmy Awards. His films have screened at film festivals around the world including DOCNYC. His featurelength documentary, Gen Silent, won the Audience Choice Award at Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival. His next featurelength documentary: The Minister of Loneliness, a look at the rapidly spreading epidemic of chronic loneliness. Maddux is an outspoken activist for the LGBTQ aging and LGBTQ history movements. He has spoken at national conferences including the American Psychological Association, Out & Equal, Creating Change and the American Society on Aging. He has frequently advocated for residential communities and care facilities to form their own gaystraight alliances similar to those in high schools. Maddux is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Joseph Applebaum is a television broadcast producer and documentary filmmaker with over 20 years experience in the national entertainment industry covering most formats of the unscripted genre. Past clients have included creating content for Buena Vista Entertainment (Disney), Merv Griffin Entertainment, Comedy Central, MTV, LOGO, BET, FX, Lifetime, NBC, CBS and FOX networks as well as a long list of independent production companies. Joe is CoOwner of Interrobang Productions which has produced the documentaries GEN SILENT and REEL IN THE CLOSET. He is currently producing the web docuseries QUEER GHOST HUNTERS (HUNTING QUEER GHOSTS) and is In development on 2 more documentary projects to begin in 2018. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and is a native of Mill Valley, California. He and his husband/business partner currently reside outside San Francisco in Marin County.