“States of Grace” (trailer above) is a documentary by Mark Lipman and Helen S. Cohen, with Open Studio Productions. An eighth-generation doctor, Grace Dammann co-founded one of the first AIDS clinics for poor people in San Francisco and was the primary caregiver of her adopted daughter, who was born with cerebral palsy and HIV. But then Dammann was in a car accident that left her severely physically handicapped and no longer able to even feed herself or brush her own teeth.
At first Dammann was wholly engrossed in trying to manage her pain and regain her mobility, but over time boredom and frustration set in and she despaired because she could no longer be of service to others, a central part of her identity as a doctor, Buddhist, and mother. Moreover, she felt like she was a burden on her longtime partner, who was now the only able-bodied person in the house. This moving and intensely intimate documentary shows how the family adjusted to their shifting roles and responsibilities, and ultimately it shines a light on their resilience. As the fifth anniversary of the accident draws near, Dammann is sewing her robes to become a Zen priest and—as the first wheelchair-bound doctor at Laguna Honda Hospital—she is leading an innovative pain clinic.