States of Grace
Directed by Helen Cohen, Mark Lipman
After surviving a near-fatal head-on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge, a revered physician struggles to come to terms with her injuries and discover new meaning in her radically altered life. Her longtime partner cares for her and their disabled teenage daughter as the family embarks on a journey of loss, resilience, and renewal. 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.