The UnLonely Film Festival: Best of Fest

Ralph and the Gift of Alzheimer’s

Life changed for Ralph and Karen when Ralph was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Both doctors, each took an approach to the disease that turned a potential tragedy into something unexpected and vital as they met the potential alienation and isolation of this progressive disease with a positivity and perspective.

About the FIlmmaker

Dylan Tuccillo, a NYC-based director, editor, and motion graphics artist has created video content for major brands and has also co-written a work on lucid dreaming published in 11 languages. In addition, he has worked on screenplays, music videos and filmed a rare interview with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for the French American Foundation.

Connections

Interview

Did you set out to explore loneliness in your film and if so, what prompted this focus?

“Not exactly, I think the theme is woven into the disease of Alzheimer’s. I imagine it’s hard to escape loneliness for both caretaker and those afflicted.”

Alternately, did you recognize a theme of loneliness as your project developed?  

“I’m not sure I consciously focused on it, but in retrospect, it’s certainly there, even in the faces of the subjects.”

Did any of your viewers give you feedback that reflected this aspect of your film?

“I have been told the film is very true to the experience of this disease, and loneliness is such a big part of the illness.”

What do you hope UnLonely Film Festival audiences, trying to make sense of loneliness and isolation and navigate a path forward, take from your film?

“As Karen tells us in the documentary, life and death are a part of the experience of life, and the phenomenon of life is a gift even with the human things that come with it, like loneliness. Perhaps something like loneliness helps create its opposite: connection and love.”

Dive Even Deeper

Try the following to connect further with the film’s story…

  • Find a quiet area to sit outside.  Look up at the sky. Look into the clouds and what do you see?  Do any particular shapes stand out? Do they form pictures, do you see any animals, is there a story here?  Photograph the clouds, and observe how flattening the image changes it. Do any new images appear?
  • Think of a challenge that became a gift to you in some way, distill that down to one word, write the word down, fold it up and put in a drawer to be found later.
  • Think of a fond memory. Write a poem about it, using your stream of consciousness, your intuition.  Cut the poem up line by line, rearrange them in different ways, noticing how the meaning of your language shifts with each variation.

14 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    wonderful spin on living with a challenging diagnosis. Making the most of what we are granted is so very crucial to living a fulfilled life …

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  2. Anonymous

    New way to look at the decline. Not all caregivers are able to afford outside assistance/day activities.

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  3. Anonymous

    beginning of new life

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I can see how someone could see a terminal disease as a gift because of the focus that can then be spent on closure and forgiveness and intimacy however I don’t view sickness or disease as a gift. Especially Alz as it strips away the inside before the outside is gone. As the condition progresses, that extra time with the shell of the person is not quality time nor does it create “good memories”. It is just a responsibility that carries on after the person is gone but their remains yet live.

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  5. Tanya

    This movie helped me to look at some good in Alzheimers. For instance to look at it like a long goodbye.

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  6. Anonymous

    I love the Karen says she listens to his stories as she would a work of art, a collage. Helpful to think that way instead of getting frustrated or annoyed that a story doesn’t make sense, or have a linear flow, the way we typically expect.

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  7. Anonymous

    I liked her thoughts of calling it the long good bye as well as understanding the person as a collage.

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  8. Anonymous

    As I travel the dementia road with my mother I am grateful to be able to pay her back for the years of work and sacrifice that she put in to help me along my life’s journey. I now get to help her with her journey and provide comfort, stability, and reminiscent activities that help her to feel the thought control of knowing family and activities that are still familiar from when she was a child. I see good memories being made because I become more patient and accepting. It is certainly a responsibility, but you are doing for someone what they cannot do for themselves.

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  9. Anonymous

    Beautiful.

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  10. T

    I had mixed feelings, a gift or reminder of the end of the journey

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  11. Aaron Ornelas

    It is hard to not get caught up in what was, or what might of have been, and just accept the moment.

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  12. Anonymous

    This hits close to me as we have my father-in-law living with us who has Dementia and I agree that it has been great for my husband to be able to give his father the gift of being able to take care of him like his father took care of him growing up. My husband is doing everything he can not to put him in a nursing home. I pray that it all goes well.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    Its amazing to see this journey. The mind is a wonderous thing and her interpretation of life and death made me think a little differently of dementia.

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  14. Anonymous

    I worked with Alzheimer’s pts for many years and seen how pts were left in a nursing home with very few visits for most pts from family. Family have become distant since the patients do not remember who the family members are. I often wished that family would come in more to spend time with their loved one, it was very sad. I appreciate how this woman views the disease as a gift and looks at the positives vs the negatives.

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