HUNTINGTON’S DANCE is one of those rare films that absolutely needed to be made. This intensely personal window into one family’s struggle with a devastating genetic disease, Huntington’s, invites the viewer to experience their own vulnerability to the human condition. The director, Chris Furbee began making the film in 1996 without a clear understanding of the story he would be telling. The story told by the film unfolds as his life unfolds and the audience experiences his life as he is discovering it for himself. The magic of this film is made possible by his willingness to film events in his life over a period of 18 years. The film begins when he is a young 28 year old and concludes when he is in his late 40’s.
The story is woven around Huntington’s disease, Chris, his mother Rosemary and begins when he answers a distress call from his aunt who had been tending her sister. Rosemary was refusing the care she so obviously needed. Chris, who was living in San Francisco and had avoided seeing his mother for a number of years, returned to his native West Virginia in order to help sort out Rosemary’s problems. Before leaving San Francisco, where he was then working in a film equipment rental agency, he decided to take a video camera with him to West Virginia.
Thus begins the story of Huntington’s Dance as Chris creates a video diary of his time looking after his mother. The camera serves as his confidant as he speaks directly into it and hence directly to the audience, in an attempt to understand the chaos of Rosemary’s life and his own internal struggles. His decision to relay his inner most thoughts and emotions in such a direct manner is present throughout the film. Since he does all of the early filming himself, he relies on the use of a stationary camera to capture events that at times move in and out of the frame. This creates a somewhat disorienting sense of the uncontrolled movements that characterize many forms of Huntington’s disease.
It is remarkable that this young man who has no film-making experience and is in the midst of a truly devastating reunion with his mother, has the presence of mind to conceive and begin a film of such courageous and authentic proportions. The second half of the film follows Chris as he comes to a crossroads in his own life when he needs to know if he has inherited the disease that claimed his mothers’ mind, body, emotions and eventually her life.
Rosemary was a woman who lived her life in denial of Huntington’s disease even as the disease ravaged her, out of the fear that she might suffer the same fate as her grandmother and her father. Chris, on the other hand, chooses vivid awareness of his circumstances. His film is a public testimony of how one can come to terms with fear in its various and potentially devastating manifestations in order to live an authentic and meaningful life.
- Chris Furbee – Director
- Debra Sugerman – Producer
- Herbert Bennett – Editor, Writer, Producer
- Gene Furbee and Sarah Kendall – Executive Producers
- Otis Bess – Producer, Director of Photography
- Arissa Bright – Sound Design
- A Harvest Moon Production
- Copyright Huntington’s Dance 2014 – 89:18 Minutes