CBC: Braindamadj’d … Take II

Jun 4, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Canadian television director Paul Nadler was in a coma for six weeks in 1994. He wasn’t expected to walk again, talk again, at times even to live.
But he defied expectations, regaining many of his motor and cognitive skills during months of rehabilitation. He went on to earn a master’s degree in communications at the University of Qu%E9;bec at Montréal and also to become the director of a Peabody Award-winning documentary about his recovery, “Braindamadj’d … Take II.”
While in Egypt in 1994 on a scuba diving trip, Mr. Nadler suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car crash. He was left for dead on the side of the road. Once found, he was airlifted to an Israeli hospital and then transferred back to a hospital in his hometown of Montreal.
Thus began the long months of recovery. He was 30 at the time of the accident and liked to snowboard, rock climb and scuba dive. Doctors didn’t expect him to walk again, let alone pursue those sports.
They were wrong.
Along with producer and co-writer Jonathan Finkelstein, Mr. Nadler created an hour-long documentary for the CBC last year that chronicled his recovery over the course of 10 years. Mr. Nadler directed and co-wrote the film, which was produced by Apartment 11 Productions in Montreal.
Mr. Finkelstein knew Mr. Nadler from working with him before the accident. “My next memory was coming to visit him in the hospital and transferring him back home and he was mostly comatose,” Mr. Finkelstein said.
It wasn’t until 10 years later that the pair came up with the plan to produce a documentary. But they were able to track down some videotapes the hospital had shot of Mr. Nadler’s physical therapy and path to recovery.
Mr. Nadler walks with a cane today and has some trouble cognitively when it comes to sequencing. Nevertheless, “He has made a remarkable recovery from believing he wasn’t going to be able to do anything … and he regained the ability to walk. In every area he surpassed expectations,” Mr. Finkelstein said.
The duo took the documentary to film festivals around the world and received an overwhelming response. Audience members have talked about how Mr. Nadler’s courage in the face of overwhelming odds inspired them, Mr. Finkelstein said.
“It’s touching people, and these are not just people who have in their families had brain injury, but people who are touched by the message of the film,” Mr. Finkelstein said.
The film has been shown at festivals in Australia, New Zealand, India, Taiwan, Japan and Spain. Mr. Finkelstein said he remains interested in U.S. distribution.


  1. I’m interested in that film as the director of the Reframing Reality film festival for films that chalange the concept of disability which will take place in the Jerusalem Cinematheuqe during 27th-29th of April 2010 how can I get in touch with th director/ producer of the film?
    Emmanuel Schen Jerusalem Israel

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