The Glass Wall: Isolated by Cancer

A Dutch teenager records her hopes and fears when she is isolated from family and friends in hospital for life-saving treatment.

Lydia suffers from a rare blood cancer, and her doctors decide to make the ultimate attempt to cure her with a risky bone marrow transplant.

This means Lydia has to spend more than a month locked behind a glass wall, alone.

“It is five to eleven at night and the wall has just been closed. I’ve hugged my dad one last time and now I’m locked in my two-by-four-metre room,” she says.

This is an intimate and inspiring story of a brave young girl living with cancer, and her dreams to get better and to once more embrace her family and friends.

Lydia and her father are separated by a glass barrier for one month [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]


By Marc Schmidt

I tried to create a film that I would have liked to watch when I was 12 years old. I wanted to tell a story that’s relevant for this age, told in a mature way – instead of the forced playfulness or hipness that so often comes with youth films.

My aim is to depict the more elusive sides of being seriously ill. Not the medical aspects, but the mental process you have to go through when your life is at stake.

The solitude that comes with the notion of being in a fundamentally different position than the rest of the world is perfectly represented by the glass wall that has to protect Lydia from other people, including me as the director of this film. I wasn’t allowed to go inside the partition.

Her recovery turned out to be a long line in which the social deprivation was more of a burden than the treatment itself.

Leaving the hospital was just one of many steps. It wasn’t until she could go to school and see her friends again, months later, that she dared to believe she will be cured and she will have a life again. 

The cooperation between Lydia and myself was one of the great gifts of this film. Not only because her camera created an access to the other side of the glass wall, but also because the most powerful scenes turned out to be filmed by her.

The honesty and courage of Lydia to film even the most sensitive moments outshine my own, more distant observations. Together, I hope they depict the silent but nerve-racking phase between life and death, where hope and despair are very close.

Source: Al Jazeera