The The Lion's Mouth Opens

Directed By Lucy Walker


Marianna Palka faces the possibility of a deadly Huntington's Disease diagnosis with grace and sincerity in Lucy Walker's new documentary, 'The Lion's Mouth Opens'.​


The Lion's Mouth Opens Synopsis:

A courageous young actress, surrounded by her close-knit circle of friends, takes the boldest step imaginable to confront her risk of having inherited Huntington's disease.​


What people are saying about The Lion's Mouth Opens:


"an espresso shot to the heart" - LA Times

"the most emotionally devastating film at the Sundance Film Festival this year was a short" - Filmmaker magazine

“one of the most discussed and buzzed-about films to play in Park City this year – despite the fact that it is only 15 minutes long” - Realscreen

“a deftly executed piece of filmmaking…a powerful study of fear and friendship” - Aspen Daily News


About the filmmakers


Lucy Walker is the Director and Producer of The Lion's Mouth Opens.  She is a two-time Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker, and her films have won over eighty awards. 


Marianna Palka is the Producer and main protagonist of The Lion's Mouth Opens.  Marianna's previous films include Good Dick, which she directed and starred in.  Good Dick premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and won the New Director's Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival.


A note on the title of the film:


"And the lion's mouth opens and yer staring at his teeth
And his jaws start closin with you underneath"

The title The Lion's Mouth Opens is taken from lines from a poem that Bob Dylan wrote about Woody Guthrie called "Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie" which Marianna can recite in its entirety (it takes about 7 minutes).  The story of the poem is that Dylan went to visit Woody Guthrie (arguably his greatest early influence) in Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, where Guthrie was dying from Huntington’s Disease.  Dylan recited the poem live only once, after he returned to the stage at the end of his April 12, 1963 performance at New York's Town Hall.  Dylan explained that "there's this book coming out, and they asked me to write something about Woody, sort of like what does Woody Guthrie mean to you in 25 words, and I couldn't do it, I wrote out five pages". 


To listen to Dylan reciting the poem please visit:


What is Huntington's Disease?

Huntington's disease (HD) is a devastating, hereditary, degenerative brain disorder that results in a loss of cognitive, behavioral and physical control, and for which, presently, there is no cure. HD slowly diminishes the affected individual's ability to walk, think, talk and reason. Symptoms usually appear in an individual between 30 and 50 years of age and progress over a 10 to 25 year period.  Eventually, a person with HD becomes totally dependent upon others for his or her care. More than 30,000 people in the United States are currently diagnosed with HD and 250,000 are at-risk. Each of their siblings and children has a 50 percent risk of developing the disease.  Although medications can relieve some symptoms in certain individuals, research has yet to find a means of conquering or even slowing the deadly progression of HD.  


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