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In a Second, the Entire World Shape-Shifts

Aug 07, 2018 | 831 videos
Video by Michelle Coomber

Sharon Roseman gets lost every day. It happens everywhere she goes—in the grocery store, in the neighborhood she’s lived in for 20 years, and even in her own house. “When Sharon wakes, her walls seem to have moved overnight,” Michelle Coomber, who made a film about Roseman, told The Atlantic. “Her world can be transformed in the blink of an eye.” The short documentary is a portal into Roseman’s ever-transmogrifying world.

After hiding her condition for 15 years, Roseman was diagnosed with Developmental Topographical Disorientation (DTD), a rare neurological disorder that renders people unable to form cognitive maps—the brain’s way of orienting a person in the environment. Researchers believe the condition occurs when the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, parts of the brain known to play a major role in spatial orientation, can’t operate in sync. (In neuroscience, “network theory” states that the connections between brain regions are just as important to functioning as the regions themselves.)

In order to help the audience empathize with Roseman’s experience, Coomber said she designed the film to “transport the viewer into the shifting light and disorienting sounds of Sharon's inner world, evoking themes of loss, control, and the fear of feeling unanchored to place.”

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.