Prune Noury’s intensely personal cancer documentary “Serendipity” makes the case for art as the best medicine

Prune Noury’s intensely personal cancer documentary “Serendipity” makes the case for art as the best medicine

Source:  IndieWire

If anyone else made the observations that frame artist Prune Nourry’s feature directorial debut, they might read as insensitive or even crass; in Nourry’s capable and curious hands, that’s never the case.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that “Serendipity” — an accurate title for a film that digs into the deeper nature of the term — is about a woman taking hold of her destiny in the face of terrible circumstances, but Nourry’s careful unspooling of her documentary’s narrative keeps its deeper revelations from feeling salacious.

The film is indeed about serendipity and unexpected connections, but it’s also about seeking out those things when it might be easier to look through a darker lens.

It’s a film about Nourry’s personal battle with cancer, and how her own work prepared her for what was to come. But it’s mostly about finding beauty in horrible circumstances, a cliched idea that Nourry turns into something unexpectedly honest.

Read the story at IndieWire.

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Doctors make mistakes. “To Err is Human” explores what happens when they do and how to fix them.

Doctors make mistakes. “To Err is Human” explores what happens when they do and how to fix them.

Source:  TIME

People accept it as fact: that to err is human. Every misstep is an opportunity to learn and improve.

But when the mistakes are made by doctors, lives can be compromised or even lost. Among malpractice claims, about 30% are due to diagnostic errors, according to a report by Coverys, a malpractice services provider.

“To Err is Human,” a new documentary that’s now available on Amazon and iTunes, explores the tragic outcomes of medical errors and the medical culture that allows them to persist.

The film follows the Sheridans, a family from Boise, Idaho on their journey to understand how two major medical errors befell their family: one that contributed to a case of cerebral palsy, and another that involved a delayed cancer diagnosis and ended in death.

Read the story at TIME.

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“Bedlam” is a damning indictment of America’s mental health care system

“Bedlam” is a damning indictment of America’s mental health care system

Source:  The Hollywood Reporter

Eloquently combining intimate personal viewpoints, including the filmmaker’s own, with an incisive historical perspective, psychiatrist-turned-filmmaker Kenneth Paul Rosenberg’s “Bedlam” is a haunting and trenchant look at failed public policy.

The potent film traces what one expert calls a 150-year-old disaster: how little true progress American society has made when it comes to treating people with severe mental illness.

Once warehoused in nightmarish institutions, over the past decades they’ve been relegated instead to hospital emergency rooms, prisons, and the streets — places that Rosenberg’s documentary explores over a five-year period.

The picture that emerges as he follows ER doctors and nurses and a handful of mental health patients, zeroing in on Los Angeles as the epicenter of today’s crisis, is heart-wrenching for everyone involved.

Rosenberg and his editor, Jim Cricchi, have deftly orchestrated the interviews and footage — astute camerawork from a team led by DP Joan Churchill — with affecting archival material, and a few well-deployed title cards offer clear and concise definitions of such conditions as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

“Bedlam” is screening at the Sundance Film Festival.

Read the story at The Hollywood Reporter.

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Father of DNA, James Watson, stripped of titles following controversial race comments made on PBS documentary

Father of DNA, James Watson, stripped of titles following controversial race comments made on PBS documentary

Source:  Deadline

Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson, who discovered DNA’s double helix structure along with Francis Crick and Rosalind Franklin, has been stripped of honorary titles after repeating widely criticized comments about race in the recent PBS documentary, “American Masters: Decoding Watson.”

In 2007, research institution Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory removed Watson as chancellor after he told UK newspaper, The Sunday Times, that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says, not really.”

Watson also told The Sunday Times in 2007 that while he wished races were equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true.”

Watson apologized at the time, but in the recently aired documentary, he said his views had not changed.

“Not at all,” he said in the PBS film. “I would like for them to have changed, that there be new knowledge that says that your nurture is much more important than nature. But I haven’t seen any knowledge. And there’s a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. I would say the difference is, it’s genetic.”

Read the story at Deadline.

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Mental illness hits close to home in “That Way Madness Lies”

Mental illness hits close to home in “That Way Madness Lies”

Source:  Los Angeles Times

The ravages of mental illness, and the toll it takes on both the sufferer and family members, have rarely been presented as vividly as they are in Sandra Luckow’s documentary, “That Way Madness Lies.”

A highly personal portrait of her brother Duanne, who began exhibiting signs of schizophrenia in his mid 40s (the condition usually manifests itself much earlier), the film delivers an unblinking assessment of the failures of the health, judicial, and penal systems to effectively address what is a growing national problem.

Luckow (best known for “Sharp Edges” about a teenage Tonya Harding) came to her love of filmmaking thanks to Duane, who obsessively started making short films and taking photographs as a teenager. Duanne later joined his father’s business restoring antique classic cars, but he never lost his love of filmmaking.

“That Way Madness Lies” includes numerous clips from iPhone video diaries that Duane began shooting as his condition took hold. They provide an uncommonly up-close and personal depiction of the debilitating effects of mental illness.

Read the story at the Los Angeles Times.

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“Bleed Out” is a harrowing investigation into the problems afflicting the American health care system. Premieres Dec. 17 on HBO.

“Bleed Out” is a harrowing investigation into the problems afflicting the American health care system. Premieres Dec. 17 on HBO.

Source:  HBO

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

After a routine partial hip replacement operation leaves the mother of filmmaker and comedian Steve Burrows in a coma with permanent brain damage, what starts as a personal video diary becomes a citizen’s investigation into the state of American health care.

In 2009, Steve Burrows’ mother, Judie, an active and independent retired teacher, fell while riding her bike and was rushed to the hospital for hip surgery.

After months of painful recovery, she fell again. Then, after eight days in the hospital and a second hip surgery, in which she lost approximately half her blood, the 69-year-old fell into a coma and suffered permanent brain damage.

Questioning whether his mother received adequate care in surgery and in the hospital’s “e-ICU” unit in which doctors sometimes monitor patients remotely by camera, Burrows consulted friends and lawyers, eventually deciding with his family to sue for medical malpractice.

“Bleeding Out” premieres Dec. 17 on HBO. 

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