“A Piece of My Mind” Premieres at Riverside International Film Festival

Documentary about the recovery and rehabilitation of theater professor Eric Barr to screen April 4

Eric Barr

“A Piece of My Mind,” a documentary about Eric Barr’s struggle to reclaim his life after suffering near-fatal strokes, will premiere at the Riverside International Film Festival.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A documentary about the recovery of UC Riverside theater professor Eric Barr from near-fatal strokes will premiere at the Riverside International Film Festival on Saturday, April 4, at 3 p.m. in The Box theater in downtown Riverside.

A panel discussion will follow screening of the 26-minute film “A Piece of My Mind” and will include Barr and his wife, Karen Genet; Keun Pyo “Root” Park, director of the documentary and assistant professor of directing and film production at UCR; and Robin Russin, director of Barr’s one-man play of the same title and professor of screenwriting at UCR.

The festival runs April 3-12. During the April 4 gala that follows the documentary and panel discussion Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented to Tony Award-winning actor Joe Montegna and Grammy winner Mike Love, a founding member of the Beach Boys. Information about tickets and showtimes is available at http://riversidefilm.org/. The Box is located at 3635 Market St., in the Fox Entertainment Plaza.

The Riverside International Film Festival is in its 13th year and attracts submissions of feature and short films, documentaries, and animated films from Hollywood and around the world. This year’s festival will also feature music performances and host panels on music as it relates to film.

“A Piece of My Mind” began as a one-hour show Barr developed from emails and Facebook postings that chronicled his fight to survive near-fatal strokes, his struggle with grueling and frustrating rehabilitation sessions, and his gratefulness for the support of family and friends. It is candid, funny, and hopeful.

film posterThe longtime UCR professor and chair of the Department of Theatre, Film and Digital Production – now retired – suffered a massive heart infection after surgery to replace a valve and repair an aortic aneurysm two years ago. The infection produced numerous emboli (objects that block blood flow), which caused devastating strokes in both sides of his brain that left him paralyzed, unable to speak or swallow, and confused.

“The title says a lot,” said Root Park, the film’s director. “The film explores his ideas about facing death, his experience in the hospital and during rehabilitation, and how he applies the insights he gained to everyday life.”

Barr has recovered his speech and can walk for short periods without a cane. But he has not yet recovered use of his left hand, his short-term memory remains challenged, and he cannot be alone.

“I was alive but I ceased to be the person I knew,” he recalled. “I became a patient and a stroke survivor. I told my therapists from the beginning that I would write a show about this. As a theater guy I process something by writing about it and performing it.”

One message of the documentary and Barr’s one-man show is the crucial role of caregivers.

“I wouldn’t be alive without my wife,” he said. “When I returned home after six months, everything fell on my wife. I was afraid the stroke would end up killing Karen, not me.”

One of the hardest lessons Barr said he’s learned is to ask for help.

“Suddenly you’re in a situation where you can’t do things on your own. It gets really frustrating after a while. You have to depend on people and learn to graciously accept assistance. That’s hard to do, surprisingly.”

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Eric Barr
E-mail: eric.barr@ucr.edu

Keun-Pyo Park
E-mail: rootpark@ucr.edu

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