In 2011, Lotje Sodderland suffered a stroke that left her unable to speak, read, and write. She documented her recovery on her iPhone, and now that footage is the basis for My Beautiful Broken Brain, a film by Sodderland and Sophie Robinson which premiered Friday on Netflix. Sodderland, then 34, was working as a documentary producer when she suffered a massive brain haemorrhage, waking up again two days later in a hospital. Having found she’d “lost the ability to retain information,” she used her phone to record videos so she could remember all her meetings with doctors, but soon realized she wanted to document her own story. Despite being unable to remember the name of documentary filmmaker Sophie Robinson, whom she’d met through work previously, Sodderland eventually managed to get in contact with her for help in filming.
Sodderland says she saw parallels between the hallucinatory things she was experiencing and David Lynch films, so she started making small videos diaries for the director for fun. Midway through filming, Robinson contacted Lynch’s agent to try to show him the videos and Lynch immediately got back in touch, ultimately becoming an executive producer on the film.
Sodderland, who still struggles to read and write, says that her “life now is very simple, it’s very focused, but actually now I’ve come to terms with that, I can appreciate the beauty of it.”
In a blog penned for ASOS, her best friend of 30 years Danielle Radojcin, said Sodderland’s persistent inability to read means she “counts Siri among one of her very best friends.”
“I feel a massive sense of pride and wonder at how she managed to survive, and how she turned what could have been a setback into a celebration,” Radojcin wrote.