The prospect of seeing of Mike Dibb’s documentary about Barbara Thompson and her Parkinson’s disease, at a private screening last night, had filled me with trepidation. How wrong I was. This film, Playing Against Time, is one of the most remarkably optimistic – but also truthful – and informative films one can see.
The film shows Jon (Hiseman) and wife Barbara dealing with the daily reaity of the disease with real character, rather than being defeated by it. They also deal with the complexities of the NHS and get hold of the right treatment. The film shows effort, huge effort leading to visible, joyous results, notably their 19-date continental European tour which we reported last year
The film doesn’t have – doesn’t need – a narrator over-dramatizing or spoonfeeding the viewer. The specialists get to speak their minds, calmly and rationally. The disease is explained well and clearly, and the music, their music plays its rightful and full part in their story.
It was financed by the Wellcome Trust, and if their aim in getting involved was to improve awareness and understanding of what Parkinson’s disease is about, to remove stigmas, then job done. The film also owes a lot to one of the heroes of the UK jazz community, George Foster.
Now the badnews: BBC4 intends to screen it in February, rather than on November 4th as previously scheduled,There are grounds to be seriously disappointed that this powerful informative film won’t get aired for four months. (Not obvious why) Not least because the science, the treatments available are moving ahead all the time. Recommended.