Still Alice, an independent film
Independent films vary from those derived from non-major sources to films distributed by companies or directors viewed or labeled as independent. According to Gilmore (1997), the essence of independent films cannot be reduced to origins or its distribution, but from an awareness of aesthetic, vision, or scope. The authors contended that independent films invoke imagery and ideas that are “counter to commercial cinema.”
Recently a friend of mine, who happens to be an actress, invited me to the screening of Still Alice, an independent film directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland and distributed by Sony Pictures Classics. Only card carrying SAG members were privy to view the film prior to release to the general public. A friend, who met the qualifications, invited me to the opening. The film was based on a book by Lisa Genova, which related the story of a 50 year old woman with early onset Alzheimers disease. Julianne Moore, who stars in the movie, would be present following the screening, to answer questions.
Big stars like Julianne Moore participate in independent projects for a number of reasons. During the Q&A Julianne enthused as she cited the story significance to public health as her reason for participation. Her emotional investment in the film was palpable as she reminisced about an Alzheimers resident met at an elder care facility she visited in preparation for the film. On December 1, 2014, Julianne’s hard work paid off as she accepted the best actress award for her role in Alice, at the Independent Film Project’s 24th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards. National Board of Review joined Julianne’s fans to congratulate her for an extraordinary job. In February 2015, Julianne accepted the Best Actress award at the Oscars.
As a mental health professional, I work with people diagnosed with various cognitive disorders. However, my interest in mental illness and cognitive disorders started before becoming a licensed mental health professional in private practice. My grandmother suffered from Alzheimer before she died. I watched her slowly disappear before my eyes. First, forgetting small details followed by a slow progression of recent memory loss; then, the person I knew simply disappeared. My grandmother no longer recognized me (her favorite grandchild). Each visit was like meeting for the first time. She seldom remembered who I was or even where she was. I realized the impact this movie could have for those of us in the mental health field, and for families dealing with loved ones suffering from this disease.
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