January 22, 2010
Forgetting Dad Explores Big Questions
Poignant documentary asks, what really happens to a person with amnesia?
The film, which I thought was one of the best of 2009, combines elements of family drama and medical mystery. A week after being in a seemingly minor car accident, the director’s father, Richard Minnich, claimed to have no memory of his family. Was Richard Minnich faking his injuries in order to begin a new life?
In the film, his son sets out to find the truth by examining medical records and interviewing those who knew his father. What begins as a search for a simple answer becomes a complex lesson on the nature of forgiveness, the bonds of love, and the difficulties of making decisions in the face of uncertainty.
Director Minnich, whose grandfather was a Brethren minister, told CT that he hopes to see Forgetting Dad screened in churches and hear from viewers of faith about their opinions regarding his family’s experience. He said he was drawn as a filmmaker to “big questions” and that his father’s amnesia reinforced for him the belief that there are many things in life that defy rational explanations. “The search for answers to these ‘big questions’ remains an essentially human experience which can be found all over the earth,” Minnich said. “It never ceases to fascinate me, and is one of the major factors in making me into what I would consider a ‘humanistic filmmaker’ relentlessly searching for universal answers to the essence of our being.”
Minnich also said that his previous films Homemade Hillbilly Jam, Heaven on Earth, and Good Guys & Bad Guys, deal even more directly with religious themes which might interest viewers of faith. Forgetting Dad won the Grand Jury Prize at the Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival, the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) Special Jury Award.
Guest blogger Kenneth R. Morefield is an Assistant Professor of English at Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC. He is the editor of and a contributor to Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema (2008, Cambridge Scholars Publishing).