12 Must watch rare disease documentaries and movies


Well-made documentaries are informative and as engrossing as movies. Documentaries on subjects such as diseases, genetic disorders and chronic illnesses feature people suffering from them, which offer us new insights into them, and also creates awareness and empathy for the people. There are many touching movies too, which inspire us by featuring the people who fight such major battles every day of their life. Here’s a list of some rare disease documentaries and movies which you can watch to know more about the complications of some difficult diseases and how people deal with them:

12 – Rare disease documentaries and movies

1.     Life According to Sam

Life-According-to-SamThe documentary is one of the most heartfelt ones made on Progeria. Progeria is a one of the rare genetic disorders which decreases the life-expectancy of children to only about 13 years. This rare disease documentary depicts the life of the child named Sam, and his mother’s struggle to find treatment for the rare disease. The documentary will give you knowledge as well as make you feel sad and inspired too.

2. Blindsided

BlindsidedThis is another rare disease documentary which won the awards for the best documentary at two different film festivals. It is about the life of a boy who has Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy.

3.     The Elephant Man

The-Elephant-ManImage Source : cdn3-www.comingsoon.net

This is a movie which is about one of the rarest genetic disorders – the Proteus syndrome. The story is on the life of Joseph Merrick, and Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins played the lead roles with John Hurt and John Gielgud. Merrick had severe physical deformities which gave him the nickname ‘Elephant Man’. John Hurt played Merrick and was highly appreciated for his portrayal.

4.     Unrest

UnrestImage Source : indiewire.com

This documentary is about about CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) or Myalgic Encephalitis (ME). In this documentary, Jennifer Brea narrates her devastating struggle with the chronic illness, and how it has affected her life. Though ME in mild form is not life-changing, but those, like Jennifer Brea who have a severe form of the disease, do not have energy to do anything, sometimes for days or even years sometimes. This documentary may help to detect why you or someone you know may feel tired all the time.

5.     Under Our Skin and Under Our Skin 2

Under Our Skin 2These two documentaries are about the terrifying affliction of the Chronic Lyme Disease. It has flu type symptoms along with bullseye rash and is incredible hard to diagnose. There is a lot of controversy about this disease, and both the documentaries bring forth the symptoms and delves into Lyme disease. The second part speculates that Lyme disease may be more common than thought earlier and may be infecting a huge number of people.

6.     My Left Foot

My-Left-FootImage Source : didyouseethatone

It’s one of the greatest movies made on the disease cerebral palsy. Daniel Day Lewis won Oscar for the Best Actor. The film won the Best Actress for Supporting Role and nominated for 3 other awards. This is one of the most heart-rending movies on cerebral palsy and raised a lot of awareness about it.

7.     Lorenzo’s Oil

Lorenzo’s OilImage Source : movie.info

Lorenzo’s Oil starred Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon, who portrayed the parents of a child who suffered from the deadly genetic condition ALD or adrenoleukodystrophy. The film has some inaccuracies but still stirred up a lot of interest. It’s one of the movies which you should watch, to understand more about ALD, which is a degenerating neurological disorder. The film will have you cheering for the whole family’s successes as they fight the disease.

8.     Afflicted

AfflictedImage Source : theglobeandmail.com

Afflicted, shown on Netflix is a new documentary which profiles seven debilitating rare diseases. Seven people who are afflicted with some health conditions which are quite chronic or rare. For example, it shows two women, Jill and Pilar, whose lives were completely devastated by MCS, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, which make the patients unable to face chemicals in any form. And as there are chemicals in almost everything, you can imagine how difficult life is for those with MCS.

Other rare diseases featured in this documentary are Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity, ME, and Chronic Lyme Disease.

9.     The Tic Code

The Tic Code

Image Source : tvgcdn.net

This is a very revealing film about Tourette’s syndrome which cause sufferer’s to have tics. Every person deals with them in different ways, and in this film an older man and a young boy are shown to have the tics. The boy, who accepts his condition, is in contrast to the elderly man who is tries to hide it, and resent’s the child’s accepting attitude.

This movie also dispels some myths about Tourette’s, such as obscene gestures and words which the victims are thought to do.  These days, however, there are many treatments which can help the patients with Tourette’s to deal with it.

10. Darius Goes West

Darius Goes WestImage Source :  dariusgoeswest.org

Made in 2006, documentary follows the boy named Darius who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and travels all over the country on a road-trip with his friends. The film won 28 film festivals awards for the amazing depiction.

11.     Root Cause

Root-CauseRoot Cause can be viewed on Netflix and the focus is about one of the chronic illness which everyone in the world has suffered at one time or the other – root canal problems. If there is anything wrong with the root canal, it causes excruciating pain as well as many other health conditions which you never even guessed. Watch this documentary if you like watching medical mysteries.

12. The Mighty

The-Mighty.Image Source : threemoviebuffs.com

This movie is about Morquio syndrome, which in inherited disorder. The disease is due to the lack of some enzymes which are required in the metabolism process. The features of the disease range form joint and bone abnormalities, heart defects, corneal clouding and so on. In the movie, Kevin, who is 13 years of age has Morquio and Max, a child who has dyslexia. The two of them become friends when Kevin becomes Max’s tutor and teaches him how to read.

All these documentaries and movies focus on the experiences of the people who have rare diseases, and how they try to live a normal life with their disability. The movies make us more sympathetic towards those who have a different and difficult life.

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