Departments: The Waiting Room
“I was about to give up on life,” says 30-year-old film student Devin McClernan of Los Angeles, CA, of his struggle with dystonia, “until I found deep brain stimulation.”
McClernan's moving film about his experience, “Dystonia Devin,” was the Grand Prize winner of the 2014 Neuro Film Festival, an annual contest presented by the American Brain Foundation (AmericanBrainFoundation.org) to help raise awareness about why more research is needed to cure brain diseases. The $1,000 Grand Prize is awarded by a select panel of judges for a film exhibiting creativity in a technically polished presentation.
“Participating in the Neuro Film Festival has been a pleasure and an honor,” says McClernan. But he and his crew—Clair Chang, John McConaghy, Johnny Mam, Alex Reynolds, and Aaron James Eckardt—aren't done with the movie yet. “We plan on entering a longer version of it, which includes other people's stories as well as mine, into more festivals.” Find out more at Facebook.com/DystoniaDevin.
The $500 Runner-Up Prize was awarded to “Life Is a Journey.” Produced and directed by Douglas Browning of Kennewick, WA, the film stars Tina Lagonegro, who developed early-onset Parkinson's disease (PD) in her mid-20s. Like McClernan, Lagonegro was helped by deep brain stimulation. “Everything quit shaking. It was a peace I hadn't felt in years, down to my bones,” she says of the treatment.
Browning is a custom homebuilder and designer as well as owner of Reel Moving Pictures, a film production company.
The Fan Favorite, awarded by peers as a result of online public voting, went to “My Hero, an MSA Angel Story” by Alix Sun of Sarasota, FL. The film depicts her mother Valerie Stephanski's struggle with multiple system atrophy (MSA).
To view the winning entries and the other submissions, visit NeuroFilmFestival.com. —Michael Smolinsky