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Here’s a new blog post I wrote for my educational distributor Dark Hollow Films. They titled it “A Film’s Power to Provide Hope and Solace,” and that’s what it’s really about. Some thoughts on what it meant to make and show “Forgetting Dad” looking back on it all five years later.
Dark Hollow Films is making the film available to high schools, universities, libraries and non-profits. Please recommend it to your favorite one of these institutions. Every sale helps the film reach more viewers. Thanks!
http://www.darkhollowfilms.com/catalog/1145

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Rick’s now in the middle of the Father’s Day Film Tour of California. Become a fan on Facebook and follow him there.

And if you can, please support the tour through a contribution at our crowdfunding site.

Thanks!

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Some heartwarming stories have been pouring in following the broadcast of FORGETTING DAD on Knowledge Network in British Columbia last night. For anyone who missed it, it will be repeated at midnight tonight, Wednesday, Jan. 20th. Check out the very fine trailer they made to promote the broadcast.

If anyone who saw the film wants to comment on it, please do so here or on our FACEBOOK fan page.

And yes, DVDs are available for home use here or for institutional video (for libraries, universities, churches, etc.) here.

Thanks again for everyone’s kind words!

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St. Louis

After passing through the St. Louis airport several times these past few years, I was glad to finally get to see the city itself. Once the booming gateway to the West, St. Louis has seen better days, but it’s still a fascinating city in its own right.

Only hours after arriving and checking into the amazing Moonrise Hotel (definitely the hippest hotel room I’ve ever had), I bumped into Mike Williamson (from “Homemade Hillbilly Jam” – musician extraordinaire and former bassist, trombone, mouthbow and Sousaphone player from Big Smith) and Cindy Woolf at vintage clothing store on the Delmar Loop. What a surprise. They were in town playing a gig, and we ended up spending an entire afternoon together going to the City Museum (a fabulous playground that defies description) and the Gateway Arch. Along the way, they treated me to some fine singing and ukelele playing in the car. I just uploaded four videos to YouTube:
“Tonight You Belong to Me”
“I Only Want a Buddy”
“If You Refuse Me”
Riding up the Arch
The St. Louis Film Festival is much smaller and down-to-earth than Denver, and was relaxing to be at after the big gala events and flashiness in Denver. Only the weather was a bummer – non-stop rain. But it made for some dramatic views from the top of the Gateway Arch.

The screening at the Tivoli Theater went well. It’s a lovely old movie palace on the very cool Delmar Loop. Many thanks to festival director Cliff Froehlich for all his hospitality. I haven’t been to very many festivals where the festival director was so concerned about the welfare of his filmmakers. Thanks, Cliff! (That’s Cliff in the bright yellow T-Shirt in the photo with me)

Some guests of honor even drove over from Kansas to come to the screening – my mom and dad’s old high school friend Terry Robbins with her cousin and a friend. It was fun having dinner together at Blueberry Hill, where Chuck Berry will be playing a sold-out show tomorrow.


Some film highlights:
Joe Berlinger’s “Crude.” Joe was in town to receive a lifetime achievement award. Not bad for age 46. After missing the film at a few other festivals, I was glad to finally catch it here, and to meet Joe at last.
In 500 Words or Less” – a fine documentary by Molly Fowler and Amanda Zinoman about four high school seniors struggling through the college application process. The film is a painful reminder of what I went through over 20 years ago (I don’t remember it being quite so stressful though), and made me definitely not want to put my own kids through such a grueling process. Do teenagers really need to be put under such immense pressure?
Waiting for Hockney” (Julie Checkoway) – saw only about half the film, but I’ll try to catch the rest somewhere else. Looks like an amusing and sometimes heartfelt portrait of an obsessive artist who spends eight years on a hyperrealistic portrait of Marilyn Monroe, which he dreams of showing to David Hockney. Unfortunately, I missed the end because I had to go do my Q & A.

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I didn’t make it to the Spanish premiere at Docúpolis in Barcelona two weeks ago, but I did make it to Ourense for the next Spanish festival. Ourense is nestled in the luscious green hills of Galicia, about 100 km from the Atlantic Ocean, and has a delightful old town along with a really funky new bridge – the Millenium Bridge. My first screening was poorly attended, and I was late to the Q & A because my scrumptious dinner at a nearby restaurant was dragging on and on. I had forgotten to plan extra time for eating in Spain. But the Q & A the next day went well, even if the audience was once again small.

Festival director Enrique Nicanor did an excellent job leading the press conference, and it felt good to sit next to a festival director who was clearly deeply moved by the film, and who was eager to convey his emotions about it to the press people on hand. Enrique says FD has wings that make it fly across borders – that unique universal quality lacking in so many films. He thought it a terrific combination of American independent and European filmmaking. Maybe Matt and I are on to something, even if the film has been doing the least well in our two homelands – the US and Germany – who seem to find the film either too European or too American for their tastes. Still, it’s a wonderful honor to see how strongly FD affects viewers in the rest of the world. The Spaniards, or rather the Galicians (they’re very proud of their own culture and language and subtitled all the films in Galician and not Spanish) are no exception.

Besides seeing some good films such as the peculiar spanish film “La ciudad de los signos” by Samuel Alarcón (an intriguing and enjoyable detective-like homage to Roberto Rossellini), I also got a chance to take in some of Danish producer Lise Lense-Møller’s excellent master class on producing documentaries. She’s been in the business for quite a while, but really shot into the limelight this past year with the incredibly successful doc. “Burma VJ” from Anders Østergaard.

It was fun hanging out with other filmmakers from Canada, the US, France, Spain, Portugal, and Denmark, and dining in high style thanks to the credit cards the festival provided us for a wide range of restaurants. That’s a great idea I hope other festivals will adopt. But the highlight was definitely the party at the Outariz Thermal Baths. After a lovely buffet and drinks, we wandered off into an array of thermal baths of varying temperature, while a band played traditional Galician music to some funky projections on an outdoor movie screen. Heavenly!

The only odd thing about the whole festival was the virtual lack of an audience. I heard of long lines for some films and saw such photos in the newspapers, but all the filmmakers I met complained of having fewer than a dozen viewers at their screenings. Some shows were even cancelled because no one showed up. Hopefully the festival will find a way to better connect with the locals in the coming editions. That would make it into a really delightful regional event.

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My first trip to South America! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show “Forgetting Dad” in the highly selective international competition section (only twelve films) at South America’s largest and most important documentary film festival, even though it meant forsaking the US premiere at Full Frame in North Carolina. Based in São Paulo with additional screenings in Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, É Tudo Verdade is a highly regarded event in the international documentary world. It also offers one of the largest cash prizes I’ve ever heard of – R$100,000 (about $50,000 US) – for the best Brazilian documentary.

As it is, I ended up seeing only one program of Brazilian shorts (quite good, by the way), and spent much of the rest of the time being a tourist with my son Jonathan, who is the little kid in the garden scene in the middle of “Forgetting Dad” (he also re-appears in the end title sequence). The festival staff in São Paulo, especially American Michael Gibbons and Brazilian Daniela Wasserstein, took excellent care of us, taking us to great restaurants and such fun places as the soccer museum and the Parque do Ibirapuera. And thanks to our German acquaintance Matthias Holtmann, who took us to the bustling downtown market and the peaceful botanical gardens. And thanks, above all, to festival director Amir Labaki, for being so supportive of FD.

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Official English website
(deutsche Website)
Theatrical release in Germany on June 3, 2010. All cities and dates here.

FORGETTING DAD is a feature documentary (84 min.) written, directed and edited by German-based US filmmakers Rick Minnich and Matt Sweetwood. It tells the bizarre story of Rick’s father’s sudden and incomprehensible amnesia, which began one week after a seemingly harmless car accident in 1990. After the onset of his amnesia, Rick’s father re-christened himself “New Richard” and began a completely new life, leaving his family feeling abandoned and baffled at where “Old Richard” went.

“Forgetting Dad” is a documentary detective story which takes viewers on an emotional roller coaster ride to the various family members and to one of Richard’s former colleagues in search of answers to why Richard’s memory has never returned. Along the way, Rick uncovers startling facts which shed new light on his father’s amnesia. Is everything really as Richard has led everyone to believe, or is there more to his memory loss than meets the eye?

“Forgetting Dad” won the “Special Jury Award” at its world premiere in the Joris Ivens Competition at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in November 2008 and has gone on to win numerous other prizes including the audience award at the 1st International Health Film Festival in Kos (Greece), an honorable mention at Achtung Berlin – New Berlin Film Award, the William Dieterle Film Prize (Special Prize) in Germany and the Grand Jury Prize at GZDOC in Guangzhou, China.

FORGETTING DAD is a co-production of German television ZDF and the German production company Hoferichter & Jacobs GmbH in association with rickfilms. Additional support was provided by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Kuratorium junger deutscher Film, MEDIA, and Mitteldeutsche Medienfoerderung. World Sales are being handled by Jan Rofekamp at Films Transit, Inc. Distribution in Germany is being handled by W-Film in Cologne.

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