My Beautiful Broken Brain is a documentary, much of which was shot on an iPhone, about a young woman who experiences an ischemic stroke. The film describes both who she was before stroke, as told by friends and family, and who she is since. Like so many things, My Beautiful Broken Brain is some small glimpse into the experience of my son, who also had a stroke and who lives with a brain difference, including cortical visual impairment (CVI).
The film is not about CVI, exactly. Listening to Lotje describe her sensory experiences – a comparison of how she experiences the world now, versus then – we are given fragmented descriptions of her vision. Colors are hyper vivid and shimmering. Crowds and people and lights and sounds are jumbled and throbbing and overwhelming. Watching her ophthalmology exam, we see she has lost half of her visual field, along with lower visual field loss. If Lotje has some variation of CVI, it appears to be one sided, on the right.
My Beautiful Broken Brain is worth watching for the insight to Lotje’s vision, but also for her entire experience, her whole world is changed. Watching helps us understand brain differences, and the people we know or love or work with who have them, that much better.