Filmmaker Odette Schwegler Discusses Her New Film ‘Tin Soldiers’

by Jeremy Spirogis
Movie theater in Germany

Showbiz Cheat Sheet chatted with South African producer and director Odette Schwegler about her documentary Tin Soldiers, which was featured throughout the 2020 FirstGlance LA Film Festival. The movie places a highlight on these struggling with Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva. Here’s a peek into our dialog with Schwegler.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: How did you resolve to do the documentary Tin Soldiers?

Movie theater in Germany |  Georg Wendt/picture alliance via Getty Images
Movie theater in Germany | Georg Wendt/image alliance through Getty Images

Odette Schwegler: The historical past of it’s that I’m an
investigative journalist by coaching and profession in South Africa for nearly 20
years. I contributed to our equal of 60 Minutes. We used to companion
with 60 Minutes within the early days of the present. About 10 years in the past, we
had been doing a collection of medical tales, a few of them within the United States. One
of the tales that we did was a give attention to FOP.

Through that story, we met a number of the most unbelievable households,
one in all whom had been the Cali household. At the time, Amanda Cali was and is the mom
of an individual with FOP. He was identified when he was 5, however he’s now 15. I occurred
to be the anchor journalist on that story. The story stayed with me for a lot of

About a 12 months and a half in the past, Amanda known as me up and mentioned
some fascinating stuff was occurring in Brazil. There was a gathering of African
and Brazilian households for the primary time ever, and questioned if it might be the
begin of a documentary. As a storyteller and a filmmaker, typically a narrative simply
comes and grabs you by the center, and this was a type of tales.

Amanda Cali is just not solely an inspiration; she is a driving
drive behind the FOP affected person advocacy motion around the globe. She’s a
co-executive on the movie, and he or she is a number one mild and inspiration behind
discovering undiagnosed sufferers.

CS: What is Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva?

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OS: In easy phrases, FOP, is a situation by which the
physique’s muscle groups, ligaments, and gentle tissue progressively flip to bone. So, individuals
kind a second skeleton and get ultimately caught and immobilized inside their
skeleton. In many circumstances the situation goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

This situation is likely one of the most intriguing, ultra-rare
situations recognized to man. It is the one situation, from what I perceive,
the place one organ in your physique turns into one thing else. Our coronary heart can’t change into
our lungs, our eyes can’t change into our ears, however on this situation, your
ligaments, your muscle groups, your tendons, your gentle tissue, change into bone. So, they
rework into a very completely different organ. It’s good, wholesome bone, it’s simply
in locations it shouldn’t be.

CS: Was there a turning level or an occasion that
prompted you to maneuver ahead with the Tin Soldiers documentary?

OS: There had been so many turning factors. When I first met Amanda Cali, who’s an unbelievable mom and affected person advocate, I requested her, ‘How did you explain to your five-year-old that he had this terrible condition?’ And she informed me she mentioned to him:

You understand how your again is tall and stiff like a tin soldier? It’s simply going to get extra like that. And how your arms are straight and powerful like a tin soldier? It’s simply going to get extra like that. And how your coronary heart is courageous like a tin soldier? Well you’re courageous, and also you’re a warrior, and you’ll overcome.

And for me as a younger mom, I used to be so struck by that enormity of depth in a mom who is just not transferring her personal ache. I spotted there was extra to be informed than simply the story I used to be telling on the time.

CS: What is the medical neighborhood doing to discover a therapy
for FOP?

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OS: When I first got here throughout this story a decade in the past, they weren’t even near therapy. Now, we’re on the verge of a number of therapies with medicine and medical trials. There are unbelievable individuals around the globe engaged on this situation.

The pioneers actually got here out of Penn Medical School, led by Dr. Fred Kaplan and Eileen Shaw. That lab was the place the gene accountable for this entire factor was found in 2006. And now there are lots of pharmaceutical corporations engaged on potential therapy. There has been a variety of progress towards if not a treatment then actually towards a therapy or a cocktail of therapies.

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