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Health and Medicine • Physical + Occupational Therapy Social Work • Disability Studies • LGBT Studies
RECOMMENDED ★★★ - Video Librarian | RECOMMENDED - Educational Media Reviews Online | GLOBAL HEALTH COMPETITION WINNER - Cleveland International Film Festival
Date of Completion: 2017 | Run Time: 72 minutes | Language: English | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript & Discussion Guide | Director: Robin Berghaus
Will Lautzenheiser was chasing the loves of his life. A year into a promising relationship, he landed a dream job teaching film. Suddenly it was all interrupted by a persistent pain that, unbeknownst to him, was being caused by a deadly infection. When Will’s organs started shutting down, and his limbs began dying, doctors had to amputate both his arms and legs to save his life. Will’s world, as he knew it, would never be the same. As Will tries to accept his new life, news breaks about an experimental surgery that offers him new hope to reclaim his independence.
Putting his life and health on the line, Will risks it all to become the third patient to undergo a double-arm transplantation at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The documentary STUMPED chronicles how he copes with the loss of his filmmaking career by pursuing stand-up comedy; navigates an evolving relationship with his partner Angel, who becomes Will’s lover and caregiver; and gradually transforms, physically and spiritually, with newly transplanted arms. Filmed over four years, STUMPED explores themes of adversity, courage, as well as the life-changing potential of pioneering medicine.
Educational Media Resources Online (EMRO) | Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University
"By finding humor in tragedy and through the open discussion of amputation, organ donors, and transplants, Will’s story raises awareness of the multitude of issues and emotions surrounding disabilities. This well-crafted film is recommended for disabilities studies programs as well as general audiences."
"Berghaus lets Lautzenheiser, who is alternatively philosophical and realistic, set the tone, which helps her documentary avoid the "inspiration porn" territory in which the disability defines the human being. Recommended."
Dell Medical School | Dr. Richard Freeman, Transplant Surgeon and Vice Dean of Clinical Affairs
"STUMPED is an award-winning documentary that tells the incredible story of quadruple amputee, Will Lautzenheiser, whose humility and courage will inspire us all. This deeply human story is made even more compelling and amplified because his journey includes a double-arm transplant. STUMPED is a superbly crafted film that highlights a myriad of profound patient-centered, and system-wide issues that to one level or another touch anyone experiencing the health system. Among many themes, Will’s story illuminates the altruism and ethics of transplantation, the compassion and humanity of donor families, and the questions that arise around pursuing new therapies at the frontiers of modern medicine, all of which have enlightened much of my personal growth throughout my career.
Learners in any field, even those from outside health professions, will glean valuable lessons from this film that, because of Will’s humanity, will stick with the audience and, ultimately I believe, make us all better humans. The interprofessional functioning of the teams that help Will through his care, the elements at home that have as much or more to do with his progress towards better health than the care teams, and especially, the person-centered approach that the film’s producers have taken, provide deeply impactful, broad learning opportunities."
New England Donor Services | Helen Nelson, Senior Vice President, Organ Donation Services
"Both funny and emotional, STUMPED is an authentic testimonial to the life changing gift of donation. The film gets real, telling the honest story of Will’s struggles, support systems and victories through the process of a remarkable double arm transplant surgery. I would highly recommend this beautiful film about the miracle of modern medicine and the strength of the human spirit that all students and professionals would benefit from viewing."
The Boston Globe | Peter Keough
"Robin Berghaus’s inspiring, heartbreaking, and sometimes hilarious STUMPED...takes up the traumatic tale of filmmaker and teacher William Lautzenheiser, who was just beginning his career when all his limbs were amputated to save his life from a rare infection. Lautzenheiser’s response? Stand-up (yes, he makes a joke about that) comedy. … After he agrees to undergo revolutionary double-arm transplantation surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the doubts and ordeal put his sense of humor to the test."
Best of Fest | Palm Springs International Film Festival
Global Health Competition Winner | Cleveland International Film Festival
DOX Spotlight Winner | Tallgrass FIlm Festival
Best Feature Documentary, Youth Film Jury Award | Rhode Island International Film Festival
Showcase Film | Frameline
AFS Cinema, Science on Screen / Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Independent Film Festival Boston
Transition International Queer Minorities Film Festival
Boston University Cinematheque
Emerson College Bright Lights Series
University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
The Alliance School of Milwaukee
Palm Springs High School
Indio High School
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH ROBIN BERGHAUS
Director of STUMPED
Robin Berghaus is the director of STUMPED, a documentary that chronicles the four-year journey of a professor and filmmaker, Will Lautzenheiser, after his limbs are amputated due to a bacterial infection. With the support of his loved ones and a world-class medical team, Will pursues stand-up comedy as therapy, and risks his life to undergo an experimental double-arm transplantation in the hope of reclaiming his independence. A deeply personal story, STUMPED is about resilience, committed caregiving, and the life-changing potential of pioneering medicine. Robin brings STUMPED to high schools and universities where she speaks about documentary filmmaking and the major themes of her film, including identity, risk-taking, science, health and medicine. She also partners with organ procurement organizations, medical schools and hospitals to help educate communities about transplantation, and to register people as organ donors. Robin has an interdisciplinary background in science and film. She holds a BA in biology from Boston College, and a MFA in film production from Boston University. During her six-year tenure as a video producer for Boston University, she wrote, directed, produced, filmed and edited more than 100 short documentaries and stories on a range of topics. Her work has been exhibited at the British Film Institute, Frameline, Palm Springs International Film Festival, and as part of Science on Screen, a film series sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She is a recipient of grants from LEF Foundation, Austin Film Society, Frameline and Women in Film Dallas. Her work has received dozens of honors and awards, including the Global Health Competition at Cleveland International Film Festival.