Slamdance Film Review: Huntington’s Dance

Posted January 20, 2014 in
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Huntington’s Dance
Slamdance Film Festival
Director: Chris Furbee

Chris Furbee began video recording his journey back to West Virginia as he caught wind of his mom’s worsening battle with Huntington’s Disease 18 years ago. With the backdrop of his home state’s tradition of independence, the Southern laurels of self reliance dissipate as Furbee watched his grandfather battle Huntington’s as a young child, and now his mother, Rosemary Shockey. Furbee returns to his mother’s home to find her appearance severely altered and her motor skills to have been struck by the physiological effects found in her erratic limb movements and general lack of equilibrium. As the disease has altered Shockey’s mind, Furbee, a 28-year-old at this point in the documentary, struggles to provide adequate care for her while helping her maintain her sense of independence. In light of Furbee’s logistical and existential need to go back to California for a spell—and two fire scares on Shockey’s part in one day—he entrusts her to the care of a home-visiting nurse, who ultimately lands Shockey into a nursing home. Once Furbee tests to see if he is a future victim, with a 50-percent chance of having the abnormal Huntington’s gene, he pushes forward though his 30s (and breaches his 40s) to reconfigure what Huntington’s Disease means in his life—right down to his daily tedium, awareness generation and love life. Huntington’s Dance is, simultaneously, a saddening and uplifting film: Furbee’s dedication to confronting this “demonic” hereditary disease shows a wayward young man emboldening into a determined adult ready to re-harness a feeling of independence for Huntington’s victims. It’s an inspiring story, and to learn more, go to


Date: 1.22, 7:45 PM Venue: Treasure Mountain Inn, Gallery