Matter of Mind: My Parkinson's

Three individuals–a political cartoonist, a mother turned boxing coach, and an optician–navigate their lives with resourcefulness and determination in the face of Parkinson’s disease.

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Independent Lens
Premiere Date
April 8, 2024
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
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Anna Moot-Levin

Anna Moot-Levin is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer, and editor with a passion for stories about health and healthcare. Her debut documentary, The Providers, aired on PBS’s Independent Lens in 2019. She is also an associate producer of the Academy Award-winning documentary Inside Job (2010). She is based in Brooklyn.

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Laura Green

Laura Green is an award-winning documentary director and editor based in San Francisco. Her debut documentary, The Providers, aired on Independent Lens in 2019. She edited When I Write It, which premiered at Tribeca in 2020, and the IDA award-nominated web-series The F-Word. She is an assistant professor at San Francisco State University.

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David Alvarado

David Alvarado is a documentary director and producer focusing on science, technology, and human rights. His new project is about a legendary Chicano playwright and filmmaker, Luis Valdez.

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Jason Sussberg

Jason Sussberg is a Bay Area-based documentary filmmaker. He has produced and directed several theatrical documentaries that have broadcast on PBS and streamed on Netflix and Amazon. His work includes The Immortalists (2014), Bill Nye: Science Guy (2017), and We Are As Gods (2021).

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The Film

Matter of Mind: My Parkinson’s is the second in a series of three documentaries focusing on neurodegenerative diseases. Parkinson’s disease (PD) develops when nerve cells in the brain stop making dopamine. PD strips away motor abilities, causing a wide range of symptoms, from tremors and falling to dementia and depression. 

Peter Dunlap-Shohl is diagnosed with PD at the age of 43. As a political cartoonist, he contemplates his future and how he will continue to draw as his motor control declines. In his home state of Alaska, there are no Parkinson’s specialists, so he moves to Washington state for better care. He transforms his journey, with its comedic highs and somber lows, into a graphic novel. Veronica Garcia-Hayes lives in San Francisco’s Mission District. She was diagnosed with PD when she was pregnant, and 12 years later, she manages progressing symptoms while raising a teenager. She channels her energy into physical fortitude, becoming a boxing coach and an advocate for exercise, one of the most powerful methods of slowing the progression of PD. Juan Solano is a Puerto Rican optician. He owns a mom-and-pop eyeglass shop in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, but worries for the business’ survival as his PD symptoms grow more acute. In hopes of altering the disease’s progression, he pursues deep brain stimulation, a surgery in which electrodes are implanted in the brain.

Each is a tale of determination, where through ingenuity and adaptation, three people offer insight into what it means to live with degenerative illness.