'VideoLibrarian' Film Review

Dr. Grace Dammann, a high-profile San Francisco physician and clinic founder who is revered in AIDS and humanitarian circles, was severely mangled in a car crash on the Golden Gate Bridge in 2008. Having long ministered to others in crisis, she is now an invalid, relying on her longtime domestic partner turned full-time caregiver Nancy “Fu” Schroeder, while also coping with the dawning adolescence of their adopted daughter Sabrina (who is herself afflicted with cerebral palsy). These strong women belong to a supportive California Zen Buddhist community (author Isabel Allende is part of their circle of friends), but the torturous programs of therapy and rehabilitation test their loyalties severely. Filmmakers Mark Lipman and Helen S. Cohen’s States of Grace not only shows the dynamics of a non-traditional American family but also probes the limits of the caregiver/patient relationship, where fatigue and desperation can set in even among individuals who seem formidably armed – both intellectually and spiritually – to meet the challenges. A powerful documentary that touches on numerous subjects – medical, biographical, religious and LGBT – this is highly recommended.