The Documentary

 

WELCOME

This is the website for the documentary  PLAYING WITH PARKINSON’S, about jazz guitarist (and remarkable being) Sangeeta Michael Berardi whose former virtuosity was diminished by the onset of Parkinson’s disease, but not his determination to continue to make music (and draw, and write) and live fully with zero self pity and plenty of joy. 

In October of 2014 PLAYING WITH PARKINSON’S had it’s world premier at the Woodstock Film Festival, screening twice in two different venue. Audience reaction, both from the Q and A and from emails and Facebook postings, was full of praise.   Here are just a few of the many comments:

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“Inspired”

“Funny, moving, wise”

“Beautiful in all respects”

“Your film is extraordinary.  It is such an honor to know you and to be among the audience of this incredible creation”

“This film will heal a lot of people”

“What a monumental piece of work!  Painful, beautiful, insightful,  difficult to watch (yet) compelling. courageous and uplifting.   I can only imagine what it took on your part to pull this off. Bravo!!”

......and, from a column in the Huffington Post:

“I found myself crying and shaking  –– stunned by Sangeeta’s indomitable spirit of creativity and the filmmaker’s extraordinary ability to communicate the highest attributes of what it truly means to be a human being.”

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Below is the first four minutes of the film as screened at the Woodstock Film Festival:














Since then we have made some additional changes to this opening (and the ending, too) which we will post here shortly.   In the meantime we continue to enter the film in festivals as we also look for distribution.  All suggestions and inquiries welcome.  Thank you

  1. -Burrill Crohn


THE DOCUMENTARY

if you passed Sangeeta Michael Berardi on the street you would see, if you noticed him at all, a little guy, looks to be in his sixties, walking not quite steadily, his hands shaking, his jaw twitching.  But if you walked on by you’d be passing one of the most remarkable men you might ever get to meet.  Musician, writer, painter, poet, meditator (Sangeeta, his spiritual name, means “Divine Song”), philosopher and once, in 1958, when he was 18, a bank robber (the idea was to get enough money to just play music).  Beginning in the sixties, he played guitar with some of the leading figures on jazz’ outer edge including Roswell Rudd, Archie Shepp, Alice Coltrane (John Coltrane’s wife), Rashied Ali, Karl Berger, Eddie Gomez, Pharoah Sanders and many others, and has recorded under his own name and on the albums of others.  Then came 2003 and the onset of Parkinson disease and Sangeeta’s body began to experience limitations, some severe.  But there were no such limits on his imagination, creativity and determination to live fully.  And his dream was was always to make another recording.

In June, 2011, eight years later, it happened.  Sangeeta went into a recording studio to make a new CD, joined by some other musicians from previous recordings.  For Sangeeta it wasn’t going  be the fiery, virtuosic music of his past but a music of the present, born out of of the person he is today, Parkinson’s and all .  “My goal”, Sangeeta said in the studio “is to translate the unique rhythms of my Parkinson’s tremors into musical statements. I will be using a guitar, though in a different way than before.  Other Instruments might be bowls and spoons, or my pill containers in a bag, or almost anything that will translate shakes into sound.  I will also use my voice, modulated by Parkinson’s grip on my vocal cords, as an instrument as well.   We have some amazing musicians on this date and I won’t be able to keep up with them technically, nor do I expect them to limit themselves to what I can or can’t do on my instruments.  The challenge will be whether we can merge on a new common ground based on sound, intention  and what I like to call the ‘virtuosity of the soul.’ ”

For award winning jazz documentary filmmaker, Burrill Crohn, that recording and events surrounding it is the focus of this documentary about Sangeeta and his life, before and with Parkinson’s.  Yes, this is a film about music, and also the burdens life can put upon us sometimes.  It is also a film about Parkinson’s disease, and how someone like Sangeeta converts “disabilities” into new abilities. But, at it’s heart, this is a film about the human spirit, transcendence and the everyday heroes (the last word Sangeeta would use about himself) that walk among us.