Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance represented at “Brain on Fire” movie premiere

October 11, 2016

Fans line up for the Saturday showing of "Brain on Fire" in Toronto.
Fans line up for the Saturday showing of “Brain on Fire” in Toronto.

The movie adaptation of Susannah Cahalan’s New York Times best-selling book, Brain of Fire, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday, September 16. The red-carpet event included pre- and post-movie talks by Charlize Theron, who produced the movie, director Gerard Barrett, Chloe Grace Moretz, who plays Susannah, Dr. Najjar, who diagnosed the disease, and Susannah’s husband, Stephen GrywalskiBarrett spoke about the importance of Susannah’s book and her story and how he felt honored to be able to tell this real-life account of AE. Theron spoke about how the movie will undoubtedly save lives, and praised Susannah for her courage as a survivor and for her willingness to share her life’s journey with others.

At the end of the movie, Barrett invited survivors on to the stage which included lots of applause from the audience and hugs all round among survivors and the cast, crew, and writer.

Survivors, friends, and family gather for dinner after the premiere of "Brain on Fire."
Survivors, friends, and family gather for dinner after the premiere of “Brain on Fire.”
Cheryl and her mom, Phyllis, are mother and grandmother to an AE survivor. They are pictured with AEA’s Executive Director, John Spencer.

AEA Executive Director, John Spencer, attended the event and met with patients and families throughout the weekend. “Continued gatherings around this movie of survivors, those who have lost loved-ones to AE, and those in the medical community will unquestionably be the tipping point of awareness about the disease. While Susannah had a remarkable outcome, too many people go undiagnosed and are relegated to a lifetime of suffering and/or unnecessary institutionalization. All of us who work to end this disease are forever indebted to Susannah for her generosity of spirit in realizing that her story could help save others,” said Spencer. Susannah Cahalan is a board of directors member of AEA. At the time of writing, there is no word on a release date for the movie. For more information visit