Wade on Birmingham

Sidewalk 2009: A whole new you


Movie review: ‘Forgetting Dad’

By Kenn McCracken

Review at a glance: “Forgetting Dad” provides a chance to explore questions of identity and memory in a doc about a dad who loses his memory and moves on to another family.

Forgetting Dad

“Old Richard” and Rick Minnich on graduation day
in 1990, in a still from “Forgetting Dad.”

“If your father no longer remembers you, does he stop being your father?”

Wade on Birmingham - Sidewalk Moving Picture FestivalThe answer, of course, depends on who you ask. Director Rick Minnich asks the question in his documentary, “Forgetting Dad.” More interesting are the questions that such an exploration can — and in this case, does — uncover.

The film screens Sept. 26 at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.

In 1990, a car accident caused Minnich’s father to lose his memory, or so it seems, since no physical damage was ever uncovered. The amnesia gradually caused the family to fall apart, creating a divide between what he terms as “Old Richard” and “New Richard.” Minnich spent years documenting his exploration of his own memories and connections to New Richard.

Trailer: “Forgetting Dad”

The narrative seems to move a bit slowly at times. But it is put together so new questions — wrinkles in the fabric of the story — introduce themselves gradually and naturally, creating a layered, thought-provoking examination of family, identity, memory and self that should be of interest to anyone.

Also, Minnich manages to avoid what I feared: playing the personal connection for cheap emotional reaction. Not to say that the family members are without emotion, but rather that the simple honesty and rawness in the presentation doesn’t feel manipulative.

Mom wonders if Richard’s amnesia could be fake
in this clip from “Forgetting Dad.”

From a production standpoint, the film itself is nothing terribly unique. The cinematography is mostly quite passable, current interview footage interspersed with old 8mm family films. The audio mix seems a bit uneven, making it difficult to focus on the interviewees at times.

Also, momentary blackouts of the picture occurred (the audio was clear throughout), hopefully a glitch limited to my screener copy. Those were very jarring, especially well into the film.

It’s certainly not the strongest documentary you’ll have the chance to see over the weekend, but those interested in the workings of the human brain and mind, or the dynamics of family memory, will find a provocative story.

Kenn McCrackenKenn McCracken (@insomniactive) is a director and an award-winning screenwriter (2005 Sidewalk Sidewrite grand prize, “Muckfuppet”).

He’s also a writer (Birmingham Weekly, Spin.com, mental_floss), a bassist for the Exhibit(s), an eight-time cat juggling champion for Malta and an ongoing experiment in sleep deprivation. He occasionally steals your best ideas to claim at his blog, Dairy of a Madman.

“Forgetting Dad” will screen at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at Branch Life Church.


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  1. Tweets that mention Wade on Birmingham » Blog Archive » Sidewalk 2009: A whole new you -- Topsy.com
    Friday, September 18, 2009, 7:22 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kenn McCracken. Kenn McCracken said: Fame just around the corner: My writing is spotted in yet another new outlet! "Forgetting Dad" reviwed: http://bit.ly/O09qB #sidewalk09 […]

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