This rigorous yet sensitive debut from Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli follows Em, a queer sex worker, as she moves between New York City and her native Pittsburgh, struggling to kick her heroin addiction and get on with her life. With intimate access to seemingly all aspects of her life—her friends, lovers, clients, and Em alone—we witness firsthand the difficulties of getting clean and are given a stark but touching image of what it means to be young and at odds with oneself today. Elegantly shot on a mixture of digital and Super 16mm film and suffused with an intricate and atmospheric score, Empathy deftly chronicles its subject’s attempts to regain (or preserve) a shred of autonomy and evokes both the tragedy and the comedy of dire personal struggles.