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April 4, 2013

Film explores 'living with epilepsy'

A film about the complexities of life with epilepsy will be shown in a free screening of “On the Edge, Living with Epilepsy” to be presented next Tuesday at Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center.

Tom Berger and Andree Robert of Gloucester are hosting the screening of the film by Louis Stanislaw to help spread understanding about this condition.

“Epilepsy, unlike more highly recognized diseases, is a subject that still remains shrouded in ignorance, confusion, fear and sometimes shame,” Berger and Robert wrote in the program notes for the event. “It is in this context that we are thrilled to welcome you inside the private world of epilepsy through Louis Stanislaw, a young filmmaker. From his film we can see, feel and understand what people with epilepsy cope with every single day,”

More than three million people are afflicted with epilepsy in the United States, and the worldwide total is estimated to be 65 million people. More than 50,000 people die each year in America due to seizure related causes.

In this film, people with epilepsy and their families share how the traumatic experiences of epilepsy impact their lives and dreams. The film also includes information from clinical and research specialists.

Stanislaw, who has worked nearly four years to produce this film, has lived with epilepsy since he was 3 years old, when he suffered his first seizure.

“It’s been a challenge,” he said in an interview earlier this week. “It was difficult finding out that there is such a huge stigma. One experience in school changed my entire childhood.”

He recalled that, when he was around 9 years old, he was sitting in class when suddenly everything went black. The next thing he knew was that he was being carried down the stairs to the nurse’s office, and later sent to the hospital.

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