'States of Grace:' About healing, strength and love

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PUTNEY >> "States of Grace" is a powerfully moving documentary that follows the struggles of the first five years of rehabilitation for a revered physician involved in a horrific head-on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge, a crash that would certainly have been fatal for anyone with less tenacity and inner spiritual strength than Dr. Grace Dammann. The camera rolls as she learns to cope, and finally accepts the changes in her body following 15 surgeries to repair shattered bones, some of which were disappointingly unsuccessful.

Following seven weeks in a coma and more than a year's stay in the hospital, Grace returns home to the Buddhist community where she and her partner Nancy (Fu) Schroeder reside. Producers/directors Helen Cohen and Mark Lipman tell her story via a birds-eye view of daily routines and the frustrations with the limitations of her body, guilt over the burden she feels she is on Fu and Sabrina, depression, small triumphs, and finally to acceptance. The various states of Grace's capacity to deal with her tragedy is inspirational for her resilience and it is thought provoking about what our own reaction to such a live-changing event would be.

Zen-like snippets of nature accompany narrated reflections on Fu's inner feelings and future worries, show the impact this has had on her previously free-spirited lifestyle after making a five-year commitment to be Grace's caregiver. Their handicapped teenage daughter Sabrina's role quickly changed from the one needing help, to the one helping as she matures and learns significant lessons through her mom's experiences. From interviews with doctors, family, and friends, "States of Grace" paints an inspiring portrait of devotion and trust as it delicately documents one woman's fight to reinvent herself.

Reinvent she did. With gritty determination she returns back to work at Laguna Honda Hospital where she finds her niche as Medical Advisor in Pain Management, something she feels a real connection to after her own experiences with pain.

"States of Grace reveals how spiritual practice is elemental for healing to occur in its fullest dimensions. The generosity of spirit captured by the filmmakers is stunning. A humbling and profound film with meaning and lessons for all viewers."

–William B. Stewart, MD, medical director, Institute for Health & Healing, California Pacific Medical Center/Sutter Health

The award-winning documentary States of Grace will be presented at Next Stage, 15 Kimball Hill, Putney on Sunday, March 22 at 7 p.m. Cohen and Lipman will introduce the film and conduct a Q&A with Dr. Grace Dammann following the screening. There is a $10 suggested donation. For more information visit www.nextstagearts.org

Added note: Grace was part of a ribbon cutting ceremony two months ago to celebrate the installation of a moveable barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge, designed to prevent further lane-jumping collisions (in 45 years there have been 128 such accidents and 16 people died). It cost 30 million for the giant concrete zipper, to control traffic flow and save lives in the 40 million vehicles that cross each year.

Contact Cicely M. Eastman at 802-254-2311 ext. 261.

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