“My great aunt had Alzheimer’s,” says director Steve James, “and I thought about her immediately when David Shenk approached me about this project. But my true inspiration, oddly enough, didn’t come from Alzheimer’s.
“Rather, the real impetus was looking back on how my father suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and was bedridden for five years before he passed away. I saw how my mother and sister showed great compassion, fortitude and generosity in taking care of him throughout. And before my dad succumbed to dementia in the late stages of the illness, I remember how depressed and even embarrassed he seemed to feel that this had befallen him. You see, my dad was always a terrific athlete whose body was truly his temple. To lose control over the very thing he prized most was too much for him to bear. Too much for me too.
“So when I read David’s terrific book, The Forgetting, I found myself gravitating towards a desire to look intimately at a family dealing with the illness in a courageous way. But more than that, I wanted to find someone at the early stages of the disease who had made the brave decision to not hide, to not keep it a secret for as long as possible from either his family or his community. Someone determined to stare into the headlights, as it were.
“We found such a story in Greg O’Brien and his family. I’m grateful to them for sharing it.”