'Mother's Day Memories' tackling Alzheimer’s struggle oscillates between the power of prayer and medical treatment
#MothersDayMemories; #Alzheimers; #BillHoversten; #PowerOfPrayer; #MedicalResearch; #MatthewMichaelRoss; #JodyJaress; #KatKramer
Los Angeles (US)/Canadian-Media: Directed by Matthew Michael Ross, the multi-award-winning and Oscar-contending short film 'Mother's Day Memories' tackles Alzheimer’s struggle in a poignant story based on real experiences of writer-producer-actor Bill Hoversten's own mother, as she struggled with Alzheimer's.
Mother's Day Memories. Image credit: Facebook page
The short synopsis of the film is the development of Alzheimer’s by a woman, with her worsening condition being publicly denied by her husband – as he tries secretly to cure her by himself. When her son tries to convince him that she deserves better treatment, heated arguments and conflicts between them follow until a tragedy leads to the revelation of a family secret that devastates the son.
“This story is an appreciation for my mother, whose love endured even as her memories faded. After initial development meetings at Hallmark, I decided to produce it myself,” says Bill, a first-time Writer-Producer-Actor.
Bill Hoversten. Image credit: Facebook page
Bill introduces the characters and their relationship with a phone call by John (the character he plays) wishing his mother Maggie a Happy Mother's Day.
The very next moment Maggie’s (played by Jody Jaress) forgetfulness becomes obvious when she asks her son the reason for his call, and struggles to remember receiving the flowers and cards he sent her.
Jody Jaress. Image credit: Facebook official photo
When she says she’s unaware that her son lives in Los Angeles, the audience becomes aware of her struggle with Alzheimer's.
Yet in every moment of the film John’s tone conveys the poignant love and sadness he feels.
John (played by Bill) in a happy and sad mood. Image credit: Photo from video
Matthew and Bill together have successfully created a portrayal not only of the characteristics of the disease but also its impact on the family and society as a whole.
“At every step, I worked with Bill to create an honest portrayal of the disease and of its impact on the family. I was inspired by how the cast took to the script…we were doing something both important and passionate,” says Matthew, who also partnered with Bill to write the script.
Matthew Michael Ross. Image credit: Facebook official
As the story progresses, the audience feels a tapestry of emotions: confusion, forgetfulness, struggling, love, sadness, anxiety, anger, desire, optimism, and hope.
We see John's father Ben (played by Conrad Bachmann) get agitated when John insists on conversing with his mother as she struggles to remember facts.
Ben (played by Conrad Bachmann) in an agitated mood. Image credit: photo from video
Maggie (played by Jody Jaress) in a confused state. Image credit: Image from video
Entangled in the strong disagreement between Ben and John there emerges a shared feeling of helplessness toward Maggie, who suffers from typical age-related Alzheimer's. Audience members will sense a strong and deeper message on the need for medical research to find a cure for this disease.
Ben is a swirl of conflicting emotions: anger, restlessness, faith in the power of prayer, and a stubborn belief that he can cure her malady by making her work hard doing mental exercises. When Maggie agrees to try harder, Ben confides, "It would mean the world to me to have you back normal again."
On the other hand, John doesn’t trust his father’s homemade regimen, preferring instead to rely on medical treatment. He and his father clash over methods, though each desires her return to normalcy.
Audience members the world over who have family members struggling with Alzheimer’s will be able to relate deeply to the vulnerability of their loved ones feel.
When John learns of his father’s death, he expresses disapproval of the way Ben used to increase the pressure on Maggie: "His love became conditional on her getting better," he tells his wife Michelle (played by Kat Kramer, daughter of iconic director-producer Stanley Kramer).
Kat Kramer. Image credit: Pinterest
An element of irony is introduced when Michelle, portrayed as a loving, caring, supportive, and understanding wife, nevertheless agrees with John’s father about the power of prayer: "Sometimes prayer is all we have. Even with the medication, that only slows down the process.”
Michelle trying to convince John about the power of prayer. Image credit: screenshot
We are immediately reminded of Alfred Lord Tennyson's powerful quote, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”
After Ben's death, when John visits his mother, his emotion of joy stops short as she greets him by saying, "Happy Mother's Day to me.”
Hearing John inform her that it is not Mother's Day, she replies, 'It feels like Mother's Day to me when you are here." This forms the center of the story around which all other events and emotions revolve.
While looking through their family photograph collections and seeing John's wedding photographs, Maggie apologizes for not attending the wedding – when she had in fact been there. John's expression of devastating shock reflects what Bill had been feeling in real life with his mother suffering from Alzheimer's.
This short film not only provides an outlet for Bill's real-life grief but also the viewers get a chance to vent their feelings of grief.
Finally, when Maggie tells John that Ben had been concerned about losing him since he made the family complete, John is perplexed: “But why would I leave you?”
The missing piece is provided in the unexpected ending of the film, however, when John learns that he had been adopted.
Filmed in Highland Park, California, United States, 'Mother's Day Memories' premiered at the Los Angeles Shorts International Film Festival (US) on July 21, 2019.
Present at the premiere of MDM: Cinematographer Keith Jefferies, Bill, Jody, Kat, Matthew, Sound recordist Sarah Bahr
'Mother's Day Memories' has been officially selected by film festivals including L.A. Shorts, Chelsea, Louisville, Idyllwild, Hollywood Reel Independent, and the California Women's Film Festival.
Image credit: https://mothersdaymemories.com
The awards garnered by 'Mother's Day Memories' include an Indie Spirt Award by Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema; Award of Excellence, Best Short, and Award of Excellence, Disability Issues both by Best Shorts Competition; Award of Merit, Disability Issues by IndieFest Film Awards.
Bill Hoversten with other award winners at 2020 Idyllwild Intl. Festival of Cinema
An award-winning writer-director and editor, Matthew Michael Ross has had his films be nominated at Cannes and Tribeca, win the Beverly Hills Film Festival, and play in cities around the world. A member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), he worked for SONY Pictures and did projects for other studios. Films he directed include Food For Thought (1999), A Package For Me (2002), and Mother's Day Memories, which has been endorsed by Alzheimer's Los Angeles.
“Makes the case for understanding and empathy toward those struggling with Alzheimer's" - Alzheimer’s L.A.
The review of this film is written by Asha Bajaj, Editorial-Director of Canadian-Media (www.canadian-media.com)