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'Five Feet Apart' Director Justin Baldoni Shares Messages From Cystic Fibrosis Advocates

In anticipation of the Mar. 15 premiere of the film “Five Feet Apart” – a film about two teens with cystic fibrosis who fall in love – director Justin Baldoni shared an Instagram video on Mar. 14 with messages from real people with CF.

“Five Feet Apart” follows teens Will (Cole Sprouse) and Stella (Haley Lu Richardson), whose characters are in love but both have cystic fibrosis, a persistent genetic condition that mostly affects the lungs, but can impact a number of organs. They are staying in a hospital where they must keep a safe distance to prevent transferring any germs that could get either of them sick. People with CF can transfer germs that lead to lung infections, which is why there’s a rule that people with the condition should maintain a recommended physical distance of six feet from each other.

“The upcoming movie ‘Five Feet Apart’ zeroes in on one of the biggest hurdles we face as a community: the inability to touch the people we feel closest to,” explained the CF advocates featured in Baldoni’s Instagram video. “We’re a group of friends who haven’t had the privilege to hug one another. We lost best friends in the fight and understand that every breath is a breath of life. But what we can do is advocate for awareness and ask that all CF movie-goers protect one another while watching the film.”

To promote safety for those planning to see the film, the CF advocates shared several tips for staying germ-free. “By all means, we are not medical professionals,” Baldoni wrote on Instagram. “However, we are advocates wanting to do our best to keep our community and ourselves as safe as possible!”

They recommend that movie-goers with CF…

  • Wear a medical grade mask
  • Bring sanitized wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Bring gloves for extra protection
  • Wear the color purple so they can more easily identify one another
  • And, if they’re carrying contagious viruses or bacteria, please watch the movie at a later date
View this post on Instagram

#Repost please watch & read ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????? This is what CF actually looks like. These are the real heroes and the real warriors fighting every single day. Please follow them. @goodonwheels @jeremiesaunders @travisflores @fight2breathe @catchingbreaths @fightlikeabossfilm @meetthestroops @lung_story_short @cystik1 @ashleys.roses . This week I will be amplifying these voices and sharing their stories. This is why I made @fivefeetapartfilm. This is what Claire would want. if you are inspired by them please consider donating to @clairesplacefoundation and or @cf_foundation Together we can raise enough awareness and funds and #curecf. . We (a group of Cystic fibrosis friends + a CF transmembrane related disorder warrior) came together in excitement for the release of @fivefeetapartfilm TOMORROW, Friday March 15. This will be the first time that CF has ever had representation as a plot line in a major motion picture! It has been such an incredible platform that has encouraged individuals, old and new, to the community to learn more, educate others, raise funds, and connect with more empathy. Since the launch of the Five Feet Apart marketing campaign, cystic fibrosis mentions increased by 113%. We hope as these numbers grow, the race towards the cure will as well! So as we gear up for tomorrow’s anticipated launch, we wanted to share our own ways on how we can be safe from each other as movie-goers. For those who are unaware, CF patients are encouraged to stay six feet or further apart from one another if found in an area where another CF patient may be. This is to help avoid cross infection (the passing of infection from one to another). Germs can spread as far as 6 feet through droplets released in the air when people cough or sneeze. By all means, we are not medical professionals. However, we are advocates wanting to do our best to keep our community and ourselves as safe as possible! Want to help spread the message and awareness?: 1. Tag your CF community below 2. Repost this video to your walls or stories and encourage others to do the same 3. Share in the caption something you want people to know about CF #cysticfibrosis #cf

A post shared by Justin Baldoni (@justinbaldoni) on

According to Baldoni’s Instagram post, he aims to elevate the voices of those with cystic fibrosis throughout the week following the film’s premiere.

“This week I will be amplifying these voices and sharing their stories. This is why I made @fivefeetapartfilm. This is what Claire would want. if you are inspired by them please consider donating to@clairesplacefoundation and or @cf_foundation Together we can raise enough awareness and funds and #curecf,” Baldoni wrote. He continued:

This will be the first time that CF has ever had representation as a plot line in a major motion picture! It has been such an incredible platform that has encouraged individuals, old and new, to the community to learn more, educate others, raise funds, and connect with more empathy. Since the launch of the Five Feet Apart marketing campaign, cystic fibrosis mentions increased by 113%. We hope as these numbers grow, the race towards the cure will as well!

Baldoni has previously spoken about his intention to make the film and its portrayal of cystic fibrosis as authentic as possible. He consulted with Claire Wineland, a well-known CF advocate who died in September from a stroke soon after a double lung transplant, and other friends of his who live with CF. Baldoni also had a CF nurse on set every day to help ensure medical accuracy.

“Knowing the responsibility that I had on my shoulders to make sure that it was accurate was huge to me and also was what drove me to maintain as much medical accuracy as humanly possible,” he told Newsweek.

Baldoni’s Instagram video comes just days after a series of controversial “Five Feet Apart” ads were deleted from Instagram following backlash from the cystic fibrosis community. The ads were posted by Instagram influencers – none of whom live with CF or other chronic health issues – and compare the challenges of a long-distance relationship to the physical distance those with CF must maintain from one another.

Many advocates were upset that the film’s ad campaign included healthy individuals trying to relate to the challenges of having CF, instead of individuals who actually have CF.

To take back control of the narrative, “Breathe In: A CF Podcast” suggested the CF community post pictures on Instagram of what life with cystic fibrosis is really like using the hashtag #CFCommunityUnites.

Though Baldoni does not mention the deleted ads in his Instagram post, he seems to be listening and responding to the community’s wishes by shining the spotlight on real people with cystic fibrosis.

Lead image via Justin Baldoni’s Instagram