The Convenient Un-Truth About Alzheimer’s
With humor and intelligence, Jean Carper is using herself as a guinea pig for high-tech testing since she carries the number one gene for Alzheimer’s. With industry top experts advising her, filmmaker Jean Carper examines the irrational fear, drug failures, dangerous misconceptions and hidden facts about Alzheimer’s. Monster in the Mind has surprisingly an inspiring, happy ending, showing us how to save ourselves and the world from dementia.
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Using herself as a guinea pig for high-tech testing, with industry top experts advising her, filmmaker Jean Carper examines the irrational fear, drug failures, dangerous misconceptions and hidden facts about Alzheimer’s. Monster in the Mind has surprisingly an inspiring, happy ending, showing us how to save ourselves and the world from dementia.
With unique credibility (as she carries the major gene for Alzheimer’s), humor and intelligence, Jean enlightens and liberates us by showing that almost everything we believe about this most dreaded disease worldwide is simply wrong.
Monster in the Mind is a semi-satirical and often funny film by 83-year-old CNN veteran journalist and first time filmmaker Jean Carper, about our so-called “global epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease.” In an engaging and lively style, even with the use of some clips from old horror movies, Jean critiques the exaggerated and manufactured fear of Alzheimer’s and science’s absolute failure to cure it.
Praise from private previews:
“A game-changer – will do for Alzheimer’s what Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth did for global warming.” — Dr. Peter Whitehouse, Alzheimer’s researcher
“A brilliant deconstruction of the Alzheimer’s myth” — Ralph Nader.
“Exciting” — Tilda Swinton, consulting producer of the documentary.
“Original and important” — Julia Reichert, award-winning filmmaker.
“Utterly terrific – funny and serious. Everyone must see it.” — Reese Schonfeld, founding president of CNN
“An awesome feel-good movie about Alzheimer’s” — Thea Flaum, creator Siskel-Ebert TV show
I first discovered Alzheimer’s in 1982, when as CNN’s senior medical correspondent. I did a report on this little-known disease that was threatening to inflict epidemic destruction on elderly brains. Top scientists though worried, predicted a cure in five to ten years.
I went on to write several best selling books, including Stop Aging Now! Then at age 69 I was shocked to learn from a routine blood test that I have the major gene for late-age Alzheimer’s. With a cure still nowhere in sight, I became obsessed, collecting everything I could find about the disease, resulting in a book–“100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s.”
If I expected this to calm my fear, I was wrong.
Soon after, the nightmares began!
My only previous nightmares were at age seven after seeing the extremely scary 1931 classic Frankenstein. But as my eightieth birthday grew near, I began having similar terrifying recurring nightmares about Dr. Alzheimer. I was in a dark room with shrouded figures reminiscent of the Black Death, where Dr. Alzheimer examined my brain, confirming I was one of his “chosen.” I would wake up in a panic, feeling paralyzed, trapped, unable to escape, sensing my life draining away. It was, of course, very disturbing, but I was otherwise normal, and too embarrassed to tell anyone.
Quite unexpectedly, I was thrown into close proximity with actress Tilda Swinton. After a while, I decided to confide in her. Now I am not blaming or crediting her for what came next. I can’t explain it myself. But I soon became possessed with a compulsion to make a documentary investigating what had happened since my CNN report. Why didn’t we have a cure? When would it come?
Tilda enthusiastically joined in as consulting producer.
I began dashing off emails to the world’s most prominent Alzheimer’s researchers. To my astonishment, all but one eagerly agreed to talk. The first was Harvard superstar Reisa Sperling who responded at 7 am one morning within 15 minutes. That led eventually to on-camera conversations with over 70 leading Alzheimer’s authorities worldwide. I was dazzled by their intelligence, dedication, courage, openness, and good humor. And I quickly piled up 80 hours of footage. Then I stalled.
I was drowning in a mass of the latest neuroscience on Alzheimer’s and dementia with no real point or vision to shape a 90-minute documentary. I felt I was somehow missing what it was really all about.
I was rescued months later by a middle- of- the- night revelation. I awoke with a start, thinking: “Oh My God, Alzheimer’s is a Ghost Story.” It’s not just a medical problem, or a conventional scientific quest for a cure. It’s in essence a science fiction horror disaster movie. The disease is predicted to become an apocalypse by mid century. Nobody knows its cause. It originated in an insane asylum in Germany 100 years ago. It’s survives on an irrational fear of mysterious forces that attack and slowly shrink our brains, turning us into victims who resemble that repulsive half= dead half- alive creature, the zombie –created by the dark imaginations of horror filmmakers in the 1930’s and indelibly embedded in the public consciousness by Night of the Living Dead.
Our reactions to Alzheimer’s are the same as toward supernatural forces. We feel hopeless and helpless to stop it. We gaze into the cosmos of Big Pharma fantasizing about a magic pill to end our human misery.
At last I had a clear vision. Alzheimer’s is A Monster in the Mind with all the trappings of a science fiction horror film.
I needed to check in with Tilda. I flew to Detroit where she was shooting Only Lovers Left Alive, a vampire film, with director Jim Jarmusch. I showed her my gutsy opening—a rewrite of the famous introduction to the 1931 Frankenstein. She thought it perfect. Why was I not surprised?
From then on, the curse was lifted; the pace picked up; the vision was clear. I have always loved satire as a form of enlightenment. I also was freed to inject much more of myself into the documentary—undergoing high tech testing and getting the world’s top Alzheimer’s researchers to say the most astounding things.
The departure from a conventional “scientific” documentary caused some of my supporters to back away.
Tilda told me to let them go and do it my way. I did.
With the support of my long-time friend Thea Flaum, creator of the Siskel-Ebert TV series, I got a showing at Kartemquin Films Lab in Chicago, and went on to preview showings with rave reviews and a common comment: “I never thought I’d be so happy and relieved after seeing a movie about Alzheimer’s.”
MORE ABOUT DIRECTOR – Jean Carper
Jean Carper was CNN’s first medical correspondent and has written 24 books, including New York Times best-sellers Stop Aging Now! and Food Your Miracle Medicine. She carries the major gene for late-age Alzheimer’s disease.” Monster in the Mind is her first feature documentary, which she began at age 80 and completed in four years. She lives in Key West, Florida.
FESTIVALS & AWARDS
2016 Sheffield Doc/Fest, U.K.
2016 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Netherlands
2017 Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Greece
2017 Norwegian Documentary Festival, Volda, Norway
2017 Planete Doc Review, Warsaw, Poland
PRESS & REVIEWS
“Brilliantly crafted Alzheimer’s film overturns doomsday predictions”
Magdalena Kegel ALZHEIMER’S NEWS TODAY