The director of multi-festival award winner SIERRA LEONE’S REFUGEE ALL STARS turns his camera on his mother, grappling with Alzheimer’s and with her complex relationship with her own mother.
When she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, Pam White and her family have to adjust to the changes she is experiencing, and the growing dependency she must have on those around her. When the disease makes it difficult for Pam to continue writing her memoir about her artist mother, Marian Williams Steele, who herself suffered from Alzheimer’s, her son Banker films Pam’s remembrances as a way to keep her working on the project. Working with co-director Anna Fitch, Banker White has developed this personal story into an exploration not only of two influential women in his family, but of universal themes of memory, illness, and loss.
With just over two weeks left in his Kickstarter campaign, White and Fitch have reached over 60% of their goal, which will help with post-production costs. Beyond backing the project, those interested can learn more and keep updated on its progress by signing up for the mailing list on the film’s website.
With Alzheimer’s and other diseases affecting millions, sensitive and artful portrayals of the realities of their impact on patients and caregivers are essential. White’s previous film was a compelling and uplifting approach to a difficult subject – something in evidence with this very different project. I was fortunate to watch him present at the Good Pitch this past May, and, like everyone else in attendance, was impressed by the potential of the footage shown. The multi-generational storytelling being employed, along with the careful mix of Marian’s own art, archival footage, and present day photography, elevate the project from other well-meaning but limited studies of disease that function more as awareness builders than as well-rounded profiles of the subjects at their core. With this special film, White and Fitch promise to craft an indelible portrait of Pam and Marian, not simply reduced to the disease they share.