Imagine for a moment that you are 29 years old, unmarried, no children, with a promising career. You have your whole life ahead of you. But then you are diagnosed with a deadly disease. There is no cure. No treatment. No hope. The disease will not affect your mind, but it will completely shut down your body, until you can't even breathe on your own. And then you will die.
Filmed over a span of five years, So Much So Fast is a brilliant documentary that profiles Stephen Heywood—who, at age 29, was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), a neurological disorder that causes paralysis. Referred to as an "orphan disease"—the sort of ailment ignored by pharmaceutical companies because of a lack of profit potential in finding a cure—ALS is a grim diagnosis. But that does not stop Heywood and his family from attempting to do what has yet to be done: They set out to beat ALS. With the clock ticking, Stephen refuses to give in to the disease. He marries his girlfriend and they decide to start a family before ALS robs him of his mobility. Meanwhile, Stephen's brother Jamie, with no medical or scientific experience, starts a research center to find a treatment that will prolong his brother's life.
Produced by Stephen Ascher and Jeannie Jordan (whose mother died of ALS), So Much So Fast is a film of profound human emotion. This is not a tragic disease-of-the-week movie. Rather, it is a stunning portrait filled with all the raw feelings that are a part of life, from pain and sorrow to joy and laughter.
Hollywood Theatre. 2 pm Saturday, Feb. 24. This screening is being hosted by the ALS Division of the Muscular Dystrophy Association to raise both public awareness and funding to find a cure. A wine reception and discussion will follow the screening.