A revered HIV/AIDS physician who signed more than one thousand death certificates during the height of the epidemic, Dr. Grace Dammann’s life changed forever when another driver crashed head on into her car during a routine commute across the Golden Gate Bridge.
After seven weeks in a coma and twelve surgeries, she miraculously regained consciousness with her cognitive abilities intact. Her body, however, was left shattered. After spending more than a year in rehabilitation hospitals, Grace returns home to continue her slow recovery process. The film follows her for four years as she struggles to come to terms with her injuries and find meaning in her radically transformed life. Family roles are turned upside down as Grace’s longtime partner becomes her primary caregiver and the only able-bodied person in their household, taking care of both Grace and their disabled teenage daughter.
Grace’s initial euphoria at having survived the accident gradually gives way to profound boredom and bouts of suicidal despair as the reality of lifelong dependency sinks in. But her Buddhist practice and deep commitment to serving others manage to sustain her. To everyone’s amazement, Grace eventually returns to work as the first wheelchair-bound physician at her former hospital, using her experience as a patient to design and direct an innovative pain clinic treating San Francisco’s poorest residents.
About the Directors:
Since 2004, award-winning directors/producers Mark Lipman and Helen S. Cohen have been creating documentary projects together under their Open Studio Productions banner. Lipman’s films have been broadcast nationally on public television and won numerous awards. His producing credits include To Have and To Hold (1981), the first documentary to look at domestic violence through the experiences of men; Holding Ground: The Rebirth of Dudley Street (1996), a film about the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative’s successful efforts to revitalize a Boston neighborhood devastated by redlining, arson, and illegal dumping; Father’s Day (2003), an experimental documentary about the death of his father; Gaining Ground (2012), a sequel to Holding Ground that explores Dudley Street’s success in preventing foreclosures and fostering youth leadership; and Street of Dreams: Development Without Displacement in Communities of Color (2013). He also edited Alaska Far Away (2008), a feature documentary about a controversial New Deal program that relocated two hundred destitute farm families into the wilds of Alaska.
Prior to becoming an independent producer in 2004, Cohen was co-director of Women’s Educational Media (now Groundspark), a nonprofit organization specializing in the production and distribution of social issue documentaries. She is the co-creator of the acclaimed Respect for All Project, a program that produces cutting-edge films, curriculum guides, and training resources to help prevent prejudice among young people. Cohen’s producing credits include the first three films in the Respect for Allseries: It’s Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School (1996), the groundbreaking documentary that addresses anti-gay prejudice and explores how teachers can include discussions about LGBT people in their classrooms; That’s a Family! (2000), where elementary school–age kids describe in their own words the many shapes that families take in today’s diverse world; and Let’s Get Real (2003), an in-depth look at name-calling and bullying in middle schools, told entirely from a youth perspective. She has also directed, produced, and/or executive produced documentaries for public interest organizations, including Homes & Hands: Community Land Trusts in Action (1998) and Street of Dreams: Development Without Displacement in Communities of Color (2013).