August 4, 2016 Loading Docs

Type one diabetes documentary, Blood Sugar, close to Joe Hitchcock’s heart

Type one diabetes sufferer Dahlia Hitchcock is the focus of Blood Sugar - a Pukekohe-based documentary.
Type one diabetes sufferer Dahlia Hitchcock is the focus of Blood Sugar – a Pukekohe-based documentary.

Pukekohe film-maker Joe Hitchcock’s latest work is very close to his heart.

The short documentary Blood Sugar premieres in New Zealand this week and stars his four-year-old daughter, Dahlia.

Dahlia is scared of needles, but has type one diabetes and needs insulin injected several times a day.

Hitchcock said New Zealand currently had one of the highest rates of paediatric diabetes in the world, and numbers were estimated to be growing at almost 10 per cent annually.

The cause is not yet understood.

Blood Sugar was partially funded by the Loading Docs initiative, with support from the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air, as well as 53 donors who contributed to a crowd funding campaign.

It was produced by Morgan Leigh Stewart and filmed in Starship Hospital, Pukekohe and Port Waikato by top cinematographer Simon Raby.

Blood Sugar opens in a hospital ward. A doctor diagnoses a little girl with type one diabetes. This is Dahlia.

The film explores diabetes through the eyes of the active and boisterous preschooler and brings to life a child’s interpretation of what can be a life-threatening disease.

“As a parent of a child with type one diabetes, Blood Sugar is a documentary I had to make,” Hitchcock said.

“There are many preconceived ideas about what diabetes is, particularly around the idea that type one diabetes and type two are the same. They are not.”

“The cause of type one diabetes is unknown and there is no cure. I’ve always been interested in understanding Dahlia’s perspective – especially because she is too young to remember life before her diagnosis.”

Hitchcock said he hoped Blood Sugar would raise awareness of the issue to people who hadn’t been exposed to it before.

“The experience was very rewarding for me, especially because Dahlia is full of interesting ideas about how the world works. This was a great opportunity to capture some of those moments and tell her story.”

Blood Sugar will be available to watch this Thursday at TVNZ On Demand and at