Planning a ‘Dancing at the Vatican’ screening to celebrate the global Huntington’s disease community’s journey

On February 19, the University of San Diego (USD) will host the world’s third screening of Dancing at the Vatican, the short documentary featuring South American Huntington’s disease-afflicted families’ historic 2017 encounter with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

As I noted in my preview before the July 2019 premiere of this 38-minute film in Los Angeles, Dancing at the Vatican captures key moments of those impoverished, disease-stricken families’ journey to their meeting with the Spanish-speaking Francis, the first Latin American pontiff in the Catholic Church’s 2000-year history. It was extraordinary: some had never ventured beyond their home towns; some even lacked birth certificates.

Now, as both an HD advocate and faculty member in USD’s Department of History, I’m helping organize the upcoming screening, and hope many more people will see it.

Dancing at the Vatican also will be shown in London on February 5. Showings are also confirmed for Washington, D.C., in March (date and place TBA), and at the Huntington’s Disease Youth Organization conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in May. Screenings are under consideration for South America, too. Ultimately, the film will become available online.

In the words of producer and narrator Charles Sabine – like me, a presymptomatic HD gene carrier – coming together to view Dancing at the Vatican is an occasion of “extraordinary celebration” for the Huntington’s community.

An Emmy-award-winning former NBC-TV foreign correspondent, Sabine helped spearhead “HDdennomore: Pope Francis’ Special Audience with the Huntington’s Disease Community in Solidarity with South America.” Both Sabine’s father and brother died from HD.

While Dancing at the Vatican captures what I called in my preview “the underside of the HD world” – families dealing simultaneously with one of humanity’s most devastating diseases and severe poverty and discrimination – it also portrays what Sabine described as “happy tales set against the dark canvas of our disease.”

At HDdennomore, and as the film recalls, Francis became the first world leader to recognize this horrible disease. And he declared that it should be “hidden no more.”


Source: At Risk for Huntington’s Disease

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