Director: Lauren Greenfield

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


Eating disorders have reached epidemic levels in America—yet only recently have they been recognized as serious mental illnesses. One in seven people with anorexia nervosa will die, making it the deadliest of all psychiatric diagnoses. With Thin, Lauren Greenfield, a photographer acclaimed for illuminating women's and society's attitudes toward the female body, gains unprecedented access to a Florida residential treatment center to observe four anorexic women, aged 15 to 30, struggling to recover over a six-month period. Her intimate, unflinching, yet unobtrusive, camera ventures into private and painful rituals like early morning weigh-ins, one-on-one and group therapy sessions, confrontations with staff, and tormenting mealtimes.

As individual dramas surface and convoluted group dynamics erupt, the frightening tenacity and complexity of this affliction emerge. While each woman's fight is unique, abusing the body as a means of asserting control and measuring self-worth seems common to all. One patient shockingly admits that being thin is her greatest ambition: "If it takes dying to get there, so be it."

The film's flawless vérité approach engenders closeness and emotional investment in the characters and allows us to draw our own conclusions about the treatment protocol and an insurance system unwilling to accommodate patients' wishes. Thin offers haunting, groundbreaking insight into the tangle of personal, familial, and cultural factors—beyond mere self-esteem or body-image issues—that produce the immeasurable, confounding suffering of so many.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]