1st family: First stop – Los Angeles, or more correctly Santa Clarita. This is more or less where I grew up. We gathered at my brother Ben’s house (half-brother on my mother’s side – that’s why he’s not in the film), which just so happens to be the house we lived in when he was born when I was twelve. I shot my first Super 8 films of him back then, never imagining that I’d make a career of this.
Our twin sisters Anne and Jan came with their families, and some good family friends were there as well. There were lots of laughs about our clothes in the old home movies, the fake wood paneling on the old station wagon, etc., and lots of tears. The film really hit home. I could see the tension building in Anne’s face as the film progressed. The nods of her head said it all – there really is something more to the whole story than we’d all ever realized or wanted to admit.
Afterwards, the big question loomed in the air: How would Dad react to the film?
No one had an answer to the question, only more stories. Anne told about one incident during her visit to Dad’s two summers ago. One morning, Tracy set down a box of cereal near the edge of the table. Dad got furious and slammed the box across the room. Tracy tried to downplay the incident, claiming that Dad was having troubles with his vision, and misjudged the position of the box. But Anne said it was clearly another one of Dad’s explosions like we know so well from before his amnesia began, and which he has been trying so hard to contain in his new life.
Watching the film made my step-sister Gaye furious about the HIPPA (doctor-patient confidentiality) laws, which prevent families from gaining access to a family member’s medical records without that person’s consent. Having such access would have enabled us to know early on what the doctors were saying about Dad, and might have given us the insight to help him more.
There was consensus among everyone at the screening that we have the right to know what’s really going on with Dad, but no one really knows how to go about this. Sometimes I wish Justin and I had been more forceful when we drove up to see Dad, but he was such a frightened and beaten man that we simply didn’t have the heart to do it. Now I’m feeling once again that it’s up to me to confront him, and that the confrontation is inevitable thanks to the film.
The whole evening felt like some kind of fantastic blur that felt somehow very right. It was the support of my family that got me through the making of “Forgetting Dad,” and it meant a lot to me to have them think so highly of the finished film.