A UK premiere in Hackney: how music hath power to soothe the savaged brain

Picture by Karina Bedkowsk

Rio©DA0118: cinema Dalston 180118 © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
Increasingly returning to its community function: the Rio Cinema in Dalston
As Dalston hosts the UK premiere of the film Lady Lovely Lute, producer-director Laura Stratford, above, says she hopes the documentary will help to dispel taboos about brain injury


EVERY 90 SECONDS someone is admitted to a UK hospital with acquired brain injury.

I was shocked to discover this statistic, which comes from Headway, the brain injury association. And now that I have come to know Stephanie Feeney and her family, I still find it difficult to comprehend.
Inspired by her story of personal courage and family support, I decided to make a documentary on brain injury.

Seven years ago I was sat by the bar at the Pheonix Artist Club in Soho when Stephanie suddenly walked over, introduced herself and began telling me her story. We chatted about the road accident she was involved as a child, which put her in a coma for two weeks, and about her life since.

We exchanged details, then a year later, after another project I was working on fell through, I contacted her again.

The more I got to know Stephanie and learnt  about her injury, how music and her love of the lute have helped her recovery, the more I realised how little I understood about brain injury.

Talking to her, her mother and her friends as I developed an understanding of the different kinds of brain injury and the ways it impacts on the afflicted and those around them was eye-opening. The motivation behind my film grew from feelings of intrigue to a sense of conviction in its importance, because of its potential to educate people and raise awareness.

That awareness seems to have become stronger. Working on Lady Lovely Lute made me notice how brain injury has been creeping into the public dialogue more and more.

A few years ago hardly anyone was talking about it openly. Then the occasional documentary about brain injury would pop up on TV.

When Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond, multi-talented Olympic medalist James Cracknell and racing driver Michael Schumacher suffered head injuries the topic hit the headlines. Nowadays, people are more understanding.

Yet there is still some way to go. So I’m thrilled that proceeds from the screening of my film at the Rio are going to the brain injury charity headwayel.yapsody.com Headway East London.


* The UK premiere of Lady Lovely Lute is at the Rio Cinema, 107 Kingsland High Street, Dalston E8 2PB, on Saturday 8 September 2018 at 1pm. Tickets £5, in aid of Headway East London. Buy via headwayel.yapsody.com or at the theatre on the day. Watch the trailer at www.ladylovelylutethedocumentary.com

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