Hero Film Festival & Awards celebrates depictions of heroism in film. Films selected as honorees in the festival’s first cycle are to be announced this September. Continuing to spotlight submitting filmmakers, our own Nicholas Crawford (NC) interviewed Ariana Feiner (AF), director of A Story of Courage.
Introducing A Story of Courage
Ariana Feiner shares her story of having a rare metabolic condition, hypoparathyroidism. She spreads a message of hope through a children’s book for kids with chronic health conditions, Ariana Rose: A Story of Courage. Ariana shows that it is not our obstacles that define us. It is how we face them.
Filmmaker and Author Ariana Feiner
Ariana spreads awareness of her disease through book donations and fundraising campaigns for research. She shares a message of hope through her film, A Story of Courage.
NC: Please tell us about your health condition, hypoparathyroidism.
AF: I have had a rare metabolic condition called hypoparathyroidism since I was 16 years old. A common thyroid surgery resulted in the inadvertent removal of all four of my parathyroid glands.
Hypoparathyroidism, or hypopara for short, is a condition that occurs when the parathyroid glands are removed or don’t work properly. The 4 parathyroid glands are located behind the thyroid gland in the neck. Their job is to regulate calcium, which is the most important element in our bodies. The correct level of calcium is necessary for many systems in the body to work properly. This includes the heart and muscle/nervous systems. Every person with hypoparathyroidism manages their condition differently, but we all have to regulate our calcium from the outside of our bodies. This is extremely difficult because the body’s need for calcium is constantly changing.
Because this is such a complex condition to treat, my life outside the hospital is only possible with a strict around-the-clock schedule of medicine.
NC: Why did you make this film?
AF: I created this film to raise awareness for hypoparathyroidism. As of now, there is no cure for [the condition]. There is only treatment for the symptoms. It would be amazing to have a cure one day!
NC: This short film serves as a companion piece to your children’s book?
AF: My children’s book, Ariana Rose: A Story of Courage, is an uplifting, rhyming story for children with health conditions, their siblings and friends. [Its] message is that having a health condition may be a part of you, but it doesn’t define who you are. Through a trip to the doctor’s office and back to school, Ariana Rose: A Story of Courage gives kids mantras to say when people in their lives ask them about having a health condition, such as:
“I take special medicine and get extra rest,Ariana Rose: A Story of Courage
Have a positive attitude and do my best.
It will get easier after a while,
So I always keep hope and remember to smile.”
NC: Through the process of promoting the film and book, have you been able to witness any of the lives you have touched? How did that feel?
AF: I have been able to donate my book to children all over the world. On a few occasions, I have even been able to do international book readings via Skype. Seeing children with health conditions connect with my book has changed my life.
Children often choose to bring Ariana Rose: A Story of Courage into their classrooms because it allows them to share a piece of their lives with friends at school in words that everyone can understand. It is so important to have representation in children’s books and for kids to be able to see themselves as the heroes. It lights up my world when I hear a reader say, “Ariana Rose is just like me!”
NC: If nothing else, what do you hope that the audience will take away from your film?
AF: I hope that the audience will feel hope and strength to keep pushing forward after viewing my film.
NC: Why is your film a good fit for Hero Film Festival & Awards?
AF: I dedicated this film to everyone who fights an illness, which isn’t always something we can see from the outside. People who are pushing forward despite having a visible or invisible illness are all heroes and deserve to be recognized for their courageous spirits.
To get involved in promotion of awareness for hypoparathyroidism, visit the Hypoparathyroidism Association.