25 May 2010: Tonight was a preview screening of FORGETTING DAD at the Filmmuseum in Potsdam, one week before the theatrical release throughout Germany on June 3rd.
The whole evening was a bit of a walk down memory lane. Some of my earliest short films from way back in the mid-1990s played at the Filmmuseum, and I’ve always been rather fond of the place. This time around, Christine Handke invited me to show FORGETTING DAD in their monthly series of new films from Berlin and Brandenburg. I’ve known Christine since the good old days at the HFF. One of our old classmates, Jeannette Eggert, moderated the whole evening (very well, I might add).
I spent much of last year traveling the world with FORGETTING DAD, and haven’t put in a public appearance with the film since last December in China. The last few months I’ve been trying to transition from being focused on the past to concentrating on new projects, but FORGETTING DAD keeps coming back at me, especially now with the theatrical release less than a week away, and my return to China (for the Shanghai TV Festival) a week later.
I suppose it takes everyone who has ever made a personal documentary a long time to get back out of the film and move on with life. I’m certainly no exception. But tonight’s event gave me a rare opportunity to see the film in a larger context – that of my entire twenty years here in Germany. To a crowd sprinkled with familiar faces from my days in film school here, and prodded by Jeannette’s poignant questioning, I found myself walking through the past two decades, and reconstructing my life and my father’s life during this time. Indeed, as one journalist pointed out in an interview earlier today, my father and I both embarked upon very different lives at exactly the same time: his as “New Richard” and mine as, well what should I call it, “European Rick”?
Tonight I was once again asked whether or not the film has been some kind of therapy for me. That always sounds so horrible, but in some ways it has. While I always really wanted to tell a story which would interest and move people beyond my family, I’ve also been hoping that during the process some big light would go on, and I’d suddenly gain some tremendous insight into my father’s amnesia and its greater meaning. Now, a year and a half after the world premiere, I’ve stopped waiting for the big light, and am trying to enjoy all the little lights which keep going on, largely through my discussions with viewers, family members and some astute film journalists.
In some ways, the best part of having gone through the process of making FORGETTING DAD is sharing the film with other people, some of whom the film moves in ways I never quite imagined. It’s a film that gets under people’s skins. What more could a filmmaker hope for?
Without getting into any other details about tonight’s screening, I’d just like to say it was an enjoyable evening. Our composer Ari Benjamin Meyers was there with his parents, who were visiting from New York. It was a pleasure seeing them together and seeing how proud Ari’s parents are of their son and the terrific music he composed for the film.
Thanks to Christine and Jeannette for organizing the whole event.
Let’s see what awaits us all as FORGETTING DAD rolls into more than 20 theaters across Germany over the next few days. Here are all the latest cities and playdates.