Sunday, April 21, 2013

Talking Tribeca: The Genius of Marian

I’ve had the pleasure of screening some feature-length and short selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 17th-28th.

The Genius of Marian
Directed by Banker White and Anna Fitch
Festival Screenings

This heart-wrenching film, part of the World Documentary Competition, approaches its subject by breaching two topics at once. Filmmaker Banker White’s mother Pam started working on a book about her mother, Marian, a painter who died of Alzheimer’s disease. As she gets into her project, Pam herself is diagnosed, at age 61, with early onset Alzheimer’s. Determined to capture the story, Banker embarks on a film version of Pam’s book, which simultaneously recounts Marian’s legacy and Pam’s decline. The camera lingers for an uncomfortably long period of time as a smiling Pam’s face suddenly becomes blank in the middle of a sentence and she struggles to complete the thought or story she was sharing only moments earlier. The music and images selected to accompany this story enhance its effectiveness, emphasizing the importance of each detail and, occasionally, full anecdote that Pam shares with the audience. Coming at their story with a layered perspective, Banker and Anna Fitch manage to weave together a complex narrative about memory, love, and passion. For anyone with a personal connection to Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia, this documentary will prove an extraordinarily difficult viewing experience. Without any false sense of some miraculous cure to come, “The Genius of Marian” ends of a hopeful note, allowing its living protagonist to come to a point of accepting where she is, even if that notion of calm and satisfaction won’t last forever.

See it or skip it? See it if the subject matter doesn’t sound upsetting.

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