Friday, October 17, 2008

Rolling: A shining example of visual medical advocacy

Physician filmmakers are blazing a trail for visual medical advocacy and Dr. Gretchen Berland is at the forefront.

She spoke at University of Pennsylvania as part of a Roundtable on Visual Legal Advocacy and talked about her film Rolling. Rolling is a 71 minute documentary about patient-centered perspectives on wheelchair use that is creating a grass roots movement around issues of the disabled across the country.

Dr. Berland had a former career in TV production and insider knowledge about the traditional documentary-making process. In her former life she was a producer for MacNeil/Lehrer and NOVA. She entered medicine with the intent of putting her TV career behind her but the training revealed many misconceived notions about patients that slowly brought the need to document patient-centered perspectives.

Visuals are a powerful tool for accountability and with this in mind she gave cameras to the patients and empowered them to tell their own stories. In her documentary Rolling, the audience gets an unusually intimate perspective on what it means to be disabled. Dr. Berland not only gave editorial control to her patients but actually partook in an iterative editing process that involved them every step of the way over a two year period. Now that's commitment!

Dr. Berland recently spoke at a Roundtable on Visual Legal Advocacy at the University of Pennsylvania where she shared her thoughts and challenges in making the film. "The more control you give to the people you involve, the less of an issue it is," said Dr. Berland.

Dr. Berland is a shining example for what TruthAIDS hopes to do in teaching the public about health, and human rights. Her film aired on PBS this year and is available for free online at: ROLLING

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