Lisa Hepner and Guy Mossman’s The Human Trial is a documentary about a subject that perhaps you’ve heard tons about. In the hyperconnected world we live in, it’s easy to have access to factual information about health issues in the modern world. Information is accessible, which doesn’t mean you should get your facts from a TikToker awkwardly dancing to the tune of deadly stats.
On the other side of the spectrum, film gives everyone an opportunity to come together with facts with a tone that’s more down to earth. Exactly as it should be. Staying within the boundaries of public health, it’s easy to say films of this nature are essential. From an educational point of view, as well as cathartic.
Yet few times a film is made from such an intimate perspective. The Human Trial is a solid entry in a subgenre with lots of entries (Steve Ecclesine’s Have You Heard About Greg? is another good recent example), each being as important as the last. However, the way The Human Trial is paced and edited makes the experience curiously exciting, extremely personal, and altogether effective. This is a race against the clock, but grounded in a thoroughly honest depiction about survival against odds.
In The Human Trial, the real superheroes of modern society are trying to save the world. And I’m not only talking about doctors. The film is a portrayal of the lives of people affected by type 1 diabetes (T1D). From patients who seek to be cured, and researchers who may have found a way to get rid of the disease by the use of stem cell treatment. They meet in the middle for a radical trial that could change the world.
The documentary is a very deep dive into the lives of patients who see themselves fading away (even though diabetes can be treated and somehow controlled, every patient is different) as their bodies deteriorate while waiting for cures, transplants, or a miracle. However, the film never goes for the filtered version of events. Hope in The Human Trial doesn’t come from a beautiful score or pretty shots. In this film, miracles come with human effort, financial trust, and emotional stability in the midst of chaos.
Hepner (who suffers from type 1 diabetes herself) and Mossman set a journey that will perhaps change the lives of every single human being who suffers from diabetes. They are confident, and that confidence makes the film much better. The Human Trial gives voice to patients who have submitted themselves to being subjects of an experiment that may work, but it probably won’t be ready soon. One particular scene in the film is terribly heartbreaking as a patient admits his body is weakening.
The film contains a scientific approach that’s inevitably hopeful because the treatment may actually work. Not in theory. It actually does work. It’s an enlightening experience about brave women and men being at the front line, each with a different role and human value. The take is everyone remains essential to the battle, whatever may be your position in modern society. Yes , even the audience graciously learning about a disease they hear about all the time. The Human Trial gives you that chance, but it’s so well-made, the connection is impossible to reject.