The Film

A woman with long, wavy blonde hair looks into the distance, standing in front of many trees

It felt like someone else was in control of my body. That was the year The Exorcist came out. I felt an unsettling connection to Linda Blair.
—Laurel Chiten, TWISTED filmmaker, affected by dystonia

After a car accident when she was 17, TWISTED director Laurel Chiten woke up in an ambulance with a collapsed lung and a head wound requiring stitches. She was discharged days later, apparently healed. The following spring her head started jerking back and forth, up and down “like someone else was in control of my body.” Eventually doctors diagnosed Chiten with dystonia, a neurological disorder that forces muscles into abnormal, often painful, movements or postures that can cause the body to twist, as though the brain has a mind of its own.

In TWISTED, Chiten reveals the agonies and challenges of dystonia by interweaving the stories of three sufferers as they seek treatment, confront the disease and ponder weighty decisions.

Shari Tritt has generalized dystonia, a genetic form that affects her whole body. As a child, radical brain surgery improved the dystonia but left her unable to speak clearly. Then, the Internet gave her a voice, and in a chat room one day she met Ira—who loves to talk. It was a match made in heaven.

Photographer and filmmaker Remy Campbell used to walk bent over at a 45-degree angle and suffered constant pain. Five years ago she decided to undergo risky, experimental surgery called deep brain stimulation (DBS) in which electrodes implanted in the brain act as a “pacemaker” for the electronic activity. Since then she has regained control over her body. She now walks upright and is pain free.

Pat Brogan becomes the filmıs central story. Riding his bike in the pre-dawn darkness, training for a triathlon, Brogan was sideswiped by a hit-and-run driver and left for dead. He woke up in a trauma center. Months later, he began to notice that something was terribly wrong: his head was wrenched severely to the right, and without great effort, he couldn’t make it go back.

Sidelined from his promising career as a basketball coach, Brogan tries treatments and medications without success. With no other options, he decides to gamble on Deep Brain Stimulation, in spite of the risks. TWISTED follows Brogan into the operating room and beyond as he improves for a time, only to have the dystonia return more severely than ever. The heartbreaking roller coaster ride stumps his doctors and threatens to rob Brogan of everything that is dear to him––his new job, his marriage and his sense of self.

Through these stories of courage and hope TWISTED examines universal themes of control, loss and isolation, taking us on a journey of discovery into the heart of the human condition.

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