A film by Jan Louter
2017, 90 minutes
No. 328

Grey Matter follows neurosurgeons Clemens Dirven and Arnaud Vincent during the treatment period of patients with a brain tumour - a highly intense process for both physicians and patients, with the lives of patients as well as their personality, their very essence, hanging in the balance. It takes just a single cut in the brain to completely wipe out a person’s love of poetry, of their dog, or of their capacity to think, feel and love. 

This film highlights the dilemmas that Clemens and Arnaud have to face in their daily jobs: accepting or defying the limits of what is possible, the choice to operate or not, assessing the risks of a surgical procedure. Communication with the patient is key here. How to tell a patient that a diagnosis does not look good, without depriving them of all hope? How much can a patient cope with emotionally during the treatment period? It all comes together in an awake operation, where a brain tumor is removed with the patient being fully conscious. While reducing any damage caused to brain functions, this procedure presents a massive challenge to the patient, and consequently to the surgeon. Intense collaboration is a must here. 

Grey Matter is a deeply human documentary dealing with the personal aspects of the medical process and what it means to hope.

International Science Film Festival, Winner, Grand Prix
Pärnu International Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival, Official Selection
Netherlands Film Festival, Official Selection

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