New Film Release: Shaking Hands with the Devil

This new independent film follows David Plummer, noted wildlife photographer, conservationist, best-selling author and inspirational speaker, on his journey to Kenya where he first hand experiences the stigmatization of people with Parkinson’s disease in that country.

Watch the film and learn more about this team and how to donate to their mission:

David, who is a person living with Parkinson’s disease, partnered on this project with Dr. Natasha Fothegill-Misbah (producer) and Olz McCoy (director) to shed light on the challenges this nation faces due to limited awareness of Parkinson’s Disease and access to medications.

Shaking Hands with the Devil was first shown at the World Parkinson Congress (WPC) in Barcelona, Spain in July and is now being released to the public. During the showing in Barcelona, there was not a dry eye in the packed crowd. Those present, including several of our own team from LSVT Global, walked away asking the question, “How can we help?”.

Dr. Cynthia Fox, Dr. Angela Halpern, Dr. Natasha Fothergill-Misbah, Olz McCoy & Thomas Brauer at WPC

We had the chance to interview Dr. Natasha Fothegill-Misbah, Research Associate at Newcastle University, UK about the documentary, the challenges they faced and their hopes for the future with the release of this film. Here is what she had to say.

What inspired the creation of this documentary?

David was stigmatised during a work trip to Sri Lanka in early 2023. He had situations of the airline calling the police, being detained and constant scrutiny. All because of his Parkinson’s. David then started looking into Parkinson’s in less developed countries and was put in touch with Natasha, an expert on Parkinson’s in Africa. Natasha primarily works in Kenya and, coincidentally, that was David’s next work trip, so they decided to collaborate and produce a documentary. David had worked with Olz previously on a film and got in touch with him again to make this one.

What are the key themes of the documentary?

This documentary explores the stigmatisation and persecution of people with Parkinson’s in Kenya. Lack of access to medication, lack of awareness about Parkinson’s and the brutal consequences of having the disease.

Dr. Natasha Fothegill-Misvah & Olz McCoy at WPC

How is this Parkinson’s documentary unique?

It’s independently made with no prior agendas from charities / Non Govermental Organizations (NGO’s)/ companies. It is told how it is seen. It is also a very personal journey as we see everything through David’s eyes. It is about a man with Parkinson’s meeting others with Parkinson’s. Other documentaries are usually made by people who can’t relate or view things from a different perspective. There has been no other documentary telling the story of people with Parkinson’s in Africa or giving voice to their experiences.

Can you share some insights into the filmmaking process and challenges faced?

The biggest challenge is making sure we do justice telling the story of these people with Parkinson’s in Kenya. They have been vulnerable and open in sharing their stories with us, and we need to do right by them in every step. It was also emotionally challenging for all 3 of us as we witnessed and heard firsthand what people have to go through living with Parkinson’s in Kenya, and in the moment, you feel helpless and great sadness for them. We also had to be constantly vigilant as we were filming and recording people essentially testifying about crimes and we didn’t know what we might encounter along our journey because of this. Practically, the heat and light also made filming difficult with such a minimal team and equipment, so it was physically challenging for Olz carrying, setting up and operating equipment.

What emotions do you hope audiences will experience?

Disbelief, shock, anger and a willingness to help effect change.

How has the film been received by early viewers or reviewers?

We screened the film at the World Parkinson’s Congress in Barcelona (where the room was literally overflowing with people) and there almost wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Some people did have to leave the room as they found it so emotionally painful. People have found it profound, emotional, intense, but also very personal.

What message do you intend viewers to remember?

The situation in Kenya needs to change, and you can help change it by donating money to buy medicines or sharing the film for awareness. Parkinson’s is not witchcraft or caused by curses, it is an ordinary medical disease. We want to make people aware of the challenges people have accessing life saving medication. Medicines need to be available and affordable to everyone, no matter where in the world they are. 

What are your expectations for the impact of this documentary?

Our primary goal is for this film to make real, on the ground impact to those featured in the film as well as everyone living with Parkinson’s in Kenya. We hope for Parkinson’s to be viewed for what it is, a disease, and not witchcraft. Hopefully this film is the first step in many to making that possible. Other aims are to increase access to medication in Kenya as well as make others globally aware of the situation in Kenya so they can help. We hope that pharmaceutical companies take note of the need for medications to be made available and to be registered in countries such as Kenya.

Learn more about Dr. Fothergill-Misbah’s work in Kenya through her recently published article: The lived experience of stigma and parkinson’s disease in Kenya: a public health challenge

Olz McCoy, Director

Olz is a young and emerging film director from London. His films are powerful, meaningful and emotional, driven by the belief that film is the best medium to entertain and educate. Trying to make the world a better place one film at a time.

David Plummer, Presenter

David is a wildlife photographer and film consultant, best-selling author, conservationist, teacher, mentor and inspirational speaker. In 2009 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and has been fighting for awareness and a cure since.

Natasha Fothergill-Misbah, Producer

Dr Natasha Fothergill-Misbah is a Kenyan Postdoctoral Research Associate working at Newcastle University. Her research uses qualitative methods and has focused around global health, aging and Parkinson’s disease.

"LSVT Global eagerly anticipates the full release of this impactful film, which courageously exposes the depths of stigmatization faced by individuals living with Parkinson's in Keyna,” said Fox. “We feel privileged to have played a role in supporting this project—an endeavor masterfully and passionately brought to life by David Plummer, Dr. Natasha Fothergill-Misbah, and Olz McCoy."

Cynthia Fox, PhD, CEO and co-founder of LSVT Global, is optimistic that the film can lead to awareness and action in improving not only the understanding of Parkinson’s Disease, but more equitable access to basic therapies and care globally.

This film was supported in part by LSVT Global, Inc.