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  • Writer's pictureGillian Lacey-Solymar

Parkinson's on the Screen

Updated: Apr 11

From Love and Other Drugs to Shrinking, Curb Your Enthusiasm to Emmerdale, Parkinson's only occasionally makes it to screens (big or small). On today's Movers and Shakers, the gang gather in the Notting Hill pub to discuss the representation of Parkinson's across film and TV. Is there enough Parkinson's? Is it done well? And how could it be improved – both in quantity and quality?

By Podot


Each week Rory Cellan-Jones guides us between the laughs and moans in the pub. To read Rory's summary of this week's episode click here.

 

Guest Biography

Charlotte Gwinner
Charlotte Gwinner is an award-winning director and writer working across Film, Theatre and TV.

Charlotte has a twenty-year career, directing main stage shows across the UK, most recently directing The Long Song by Andrea Levy at Chichester Festival Theatre, which received five star reviews. She was Associate Director at Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse where she won a Quercus Award, Sheffield Crucible (Benefactors, Crave and Waiting for Godot), and The Bush (The Knowledge, Our New Girl.) She was also Interim Artistic Director at Clean Break Theatre and Founder and Artistic Director of ANGLE, where she won a Peter Brook Award for her inaugural season. She has been a regular on attachment at the NT Studio and directed new plays for The Royal Court, Hampstead Theatre and The Orange Tree.


In 2021, Charlotte joined the Directors Series at the NFTS and she is currently developing a short, The Game, co-written with Simon Bent and produced by Same Name Productions as well as her first feature film, Dying to Leave, as co-writer/director under Screen Yorkshire’s FLEX.

 

The GAME is a short film about the experience of parenting with Parkinson’s, inspired by writer Simon Bent’s own experience of having early onset Parkinson’s disease. On the surface, it’s a simple story about a man in the early stages of the illness, who takes his seven-year old son to play a game of football in the park. As he tries to live up to his own expectations of ‘being a good father’, he pushes himself beyond his limits, forcing father and son to face their changing relationship and situation.


What’s unique about the film is that it’s told in a witty, upbeat style and the characters are complex and void of self-pity. It shows how individuals experiencing Parkinson’s do not necessarily conform to type. And how when living with Parkinson’s, ordinary acts like a simple trip to the local park have the potential to become epic and complex events.


The film is written by Simon Bent, a BAFTA nominated writer and regular at the National Theatre and in the West End (Prayer for Owen Meany, Elling, Prick Up Your Ears) who was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s in his early 40’s. It will be directed by Charlotte Gwinner, an established theatre director, and Associate Director at Chichester Festival Theatre, Sheffield Theatres and The Bush who most recently directed a short film, Little Goes (Sky Arts) and the producer is Suri Ellerton, who’s most recent film, GANEF was screened in over 30 festivals internationally and long listed for the Academy Awards. All three have first- hand experience of parenting with illness or caring for an ill partner and have found a connection through this work. It taps into big themes around the complexities of being disabled and chronically ill, as a parent, when there is a societal pressure to present as able. Also, the challenges that arise for parents, who are ill, when they must seek care from their child and move towards accepting a new version of themselves. It also highlights the complex role for children in these families.


With our health and social care system in crisis, we want to shine a torch on the coping mechanisms and complex relationships in families, living with illness. By using fiction as opposed to documentary, our aim is to reach a wider audience; and for those with similar experiences outside of Parkinson’s to connect to our film. We will distribute our film via film festivals as well as develop an audience in conjunction with our charity partners amongst families and carers affected by the issues in the film.


 

Support the Game


Through a successful crowdfunding campaign, private donors, and a generous grant from The Millichope Foundation, an arts foundation dedicated to social change, we have raised most of our funding and are now just £10K away from our goal.


We plan to shoot the film in May/June, so we’re at a critical moment and need to raise the final funds to ensure that we can finish the film through a post-production process and that we have the ability to distribute it, which includes our community screenings and events to reach the chronic illness and caring communities.


Click here to donate and hear more. 


 

Watch behind the scenes at the recording of Parkinson's on the Screen



 


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