Beyond Laughter & Tears FAQ

General Documentary Questions

What is BEYOND LAUGHTER & TEARS?

BEYOND LAUGHTER & TEARS is the first-ever documentary to take an in-depth look at the challenges – and stories of hope – of people living with PseudoBulbar Affect (PBA). The documentary features real-life stories of six people coping with PBA, including those who have been diagnosed, their families and caregivers. Audiences will be able to follow their journey as they triumph and try to live life to its fullest despite the obstacles of their neurologic conditions.

The goal of BEYOND LAUGHTER & TEARS is to shine a national spotlight on PBA and the community it impacts, sparking a national dialogue and increase awareness and diagnosis of this treatable neurologic condition.  

Why did Avanir make a documentary about PBA?

Although PBA is not a new condition, there is little awareness amongst the general public about this treatable condition, despite the fact that approximately 2 million people with certain neurologic conditions or brain injuries in the U.S. experience PBA symptoms. We believe this documentary is the perfect vehicle to shine a national spotlight on PBA by amplifying the voices of the inspiring people who live with PBA every day.

Who was involved in the making of the documentary?

Doug Blush and Lisa Klein are the film’s co-directors. Lisa and Doug are award-winning filmmakers whose work has played at world-renowned film festivals including Sundance, Toronto and Tribeca. They are the creative team behind the critically acclaimed feature documentary OF TWO MINDS (2012), which takes a compelling look at the extraordinary lives of a few of the more than five million Americans living with bipolar disorder.

Julian Cautherley is the film’s producer. Julian is an award-winning director and producer whose projects have appeared at world-renowned film festivals, including Sundance, Deauville, Berlin, SXSW and Tribeca. His most recent film as producer is the award-winning, Emmy-nominated documentary THE CRASH REEL (2013), which follows the dramatic fall and rise of snowboarder Kevin Pearce, a traumatic brain injury survivor.

Who is featured in the documentary?

BEYOND LAUGHTER & TEARS profiles six people living with PBA and the following neurologic conditions: stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), MS and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), as well as their friends, families and caregivers.

  • Dyanna is a 68-year-old living in Anaheim, California in an active senior’s community near her daughter and grandchildren. Dyanna suffers from PBA as a result of having a stroke several years ago.
  • Bobby is a 48-year-old former truck driver living in Joplin, MO, who sustained a traumatic brain injury after a 2006 accident. He is diagnosed with PBA.
  • Scott is a 42-year-old single father of two living in Virginia Beach, VA. He was diagnosed with PBA shortly after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001.
  • Kirk is a 28-year-old living in Houston, Texas, who is an aspiring pilot. He suffered a stroke in 2010. Kirk became aware that his uncontrollable laughing is one manifestation of PBA after a family friend, who is also a neurologist, diagnosed him.
  • Christine is a 48-year-old mother and military veteran living in Tamaqua, PA, who was in a car accident while on active duty. She is diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and PBA.
  • Douglas Parsons and the Parsons family. Douglas was a 70-year-old-man living in an extended hospice care facility who had Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) and PBA. The film documents Douglas’ journey as seen through his family members’ perspectives: wife, Linda; daughter, Laura; and son, Steve. Sadly, Douglas passed away on December 22nd, 2014 of complications that arose due to his FTD. 

BEYOND LAUGHTER & TEARS features two physicians who appear in the film and provide expert commentary.

  • Dr. Andrew Stalker is a Board-Certified Neurologist at Northeastern Ohio College of Medicine and the previous neurologist of Douglas Parsons.
  • Dr. Jeffrey Cummings is a Board-Certified Neurologist, world-renowned Alzheimer’s Researcher and the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Nevada and Cleveland, Ohio.

Where can I learn more about the film?

BEYOND LAUGHTER & TEARS is being documented via its blog, pbafilm.com, in addition to @PBAinfo on Twitter.

When will the documentary be released?

The film will be available to select audiences in 2016. Plans for national distribution are still underway. More information about screenings will be made available on pbafilm.com in early 2016.

Documentary Production Questions

How were cast members screened and selected to participate in this film?

We reached out to many advocacy groups and patient support organizations to drive awareness of, and participation in, this project. Cast members were screened and selected with the help of a casting director.

Were the cast members featured in the documentary made aware of the questions asked in the documentary prior to filming?

No, the cast members were not provided with any materials prior to filming that would influence their responses.

Did Avanir have creative or editorial oversight in the development of the film or the final film product?

The development of the film was a partnership between Avanir and the filmmakers, Doug Blush, Lisa Klein and Julian Cautherley. The filmmaking team led the creative and editorial front, with Avanir providing counsel on regulatory guidelines.

Documentary Funding/Financial Questions

How was this documentary funded?

Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is the film sponsor.

How much funding did Avanir provide to support the making of this film?

Avanir does not disclose specific financials.

Did the patients featured in the film receive financial support from Avanir?

The patient cast members featured in the film sincerely wanted to spread awareness of PBA and help others; they were not paid to participate.

Are the doctors featured in this film compensated in any way? Are they representatives for Avanir?

Although the physicians in the film were not compensated specifically for their role in this film, they are under contract with Avanir and are compensated for their medical expertise on other projects.

Does Avanir seek to secure financial gain in the distribution and release of this film?

Avanir will not seek to profit or generate revenue from the marketing or distribution of this documentary in any way. The sole purpose of Avanir’s involvement in this film is to raise awareness and galvanize public support for PBA.

Is there an approved treatment available for PBA? Are you aiming to increase sales of the drug through the release of this film?

Yes, there is an approved treatment for PBA but the focus of this initiative is to raise awareness of PBA with this documentary and as such, we do not discuss specific treatment options in the film nor is that our intent.

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