Sterling resident’s senior college film project wins festival award

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STERLING – All of the blood, sweat and tears that Elise Jolie put into her senior honors capstone project at Sacred Heart University paid off when her moving short film, “Invisible Disability,” won best visuals award at the college’s Undergraduate Research Institute academic festival.

“There were a whole bunch of other amazing projects, so I was very honored,” the longtime town resident and Wachusett Regional High School graduate said, adding that she was “super excited” to find out she won.

Jolie graduated from the private Connecticut university in May after just three years of undergrad studies with a bachelor’s in media arts with a concentration in film and television production. She wrote and directed the nearly six-minute short film in conjunction with her capstone research paper, “The Failure of Medical Insurance to Cover the Costs of Psychiatric Service Dogs.”

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“While my paper discussed the difficulties of obtaining this kind of service dog, I wanted my short film to show what these dogs can do and why they are so important, while also highlighting the judgment people face when they have a service dog for a disability that is not visible,” Jolie said.

A cover shot for Elise Jolie's 'Invisible Disability.' The film stars Christina DiMare, of Northborough.

She’s now working on a master’s in film and television production and said she hopes “Invisible Disability,” which is streaming on YouTube, brings awareness to the wide variety of needs that service dogs can meet – some which are not always obvious.

“There is a lot of confusion around psychiatric service dogs and there shouldn’t be,” she said. “They are incredibly beneficial for people suffering from PTSD, such as veterans, and should be more recognized. I’m hoping people will be able to watch my film and leave with a better understanding of psychiatric service dogs and why they are important.”



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