Free Jan. 29 “The Lion’s Mouth Opens” Huntington disease documentary screening

Tuesday, December 09, 2014



What: Screening of “The Lion’s Mouth Opens” documentary
Date: Jan. 29 (Thursday), doors open at 6:30 p.m. screening begins at 7 p.m. (film run time 28 minutes)
Location: Pappajohn Business Building (map), Room W10 (Buchanan Auditorium), parking available lower level of PBB and Iowa Memorial Union ramp (exit level 4)
Admission: Free and open to the public
Contact info: Sean Thompson, 319-384-4094,
ReviewClick here for a review of the film by UI HDSA COE Public Relations Coordinator Sean Thompson

In partnership with leading documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker, the UI HDSA COE is proud to present an exclusive screening of Walker’s award-winning documentary “The Lion’s Mouth Opens (film website with trailer).” 









In this gripping and powerful film, actress/directorMarianna Palka (pictured) bravely faces a daunting life-defining moment as she finds out her genetic testing results for Huntington disease (HD), a genetic neurological brain disorder that combines the symptoms of Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis and ALS, eventually leading to death. There’s a 50-50 chance she inherited the disease from her father, who started showing symptoms when Palka was eight years old.

The audience joins the 32-year-old Palka and her amazingly supportive group of friends for dinner in her apartment on the last night before she knows her medical fate after receiving her genetic testing results. The next day, the audience and Palka learn her testing results. “The Lion’s Mouth Opens” (title taken from a Bob Dylan poem about Woody Guthrie) about courage, fear, friendship, family, Huntington disease, adapting, hope, and knowing something profound about your fate that cannot be unknown.

Walker (“The Crash Reel,” “Wasteland”) captures what unfolds in a way that is raw, honest and without pretense. Winner of the 2015 Cinema Eye Honors Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking award, the film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, has been an official selection at 40 film festivals around the globe, and has received media coverage from the Los Angeles Times, ABC News and NBC News. Walker is a highly-regarded documentary director who has been nominated for two Academy Awards, seven Emmys, an Independent Spirit Award, a Director’s Guild of America Award and a Gotham Award, in addition to over 80 other film awards.

The UI HDSA Center of Excellence and the HDSA Iowa Chapter are working closely with Walker and Palka to promote HD awareness through the film, and are co-sponsoring this free event with the HDSA Iowa Chapter.

This film is especially relevant for students studying medicine, biology, cinema, psychology or sociology, as well as for those affected by HD, documentary lovers, and the general public.

Buzz about “The Lion’s Mouth Opens”

“An espresso shot to the heart” – Los Angeles Times

“Soon the audience is a part of this extended family privy, in real time, to the most intimate and terrifying line in the sand, life before-life after moments” – ABC News

“A deftly executed piece of filmmaking…a powerful study of fear and friendship” – Aspen Daily News

“It’s an incredible gift to the HD community that Palka and Walker are using Palka’s story to make a difference by shining a spotlight on this disease and the lives it impacts” – UI HDSA COE Public Relations Coordinator Sean Thompson

Join The Lion’s Mouth Opens HD documentary screening event page on Facebook

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact Sean Thompson at 319-384-4094.