Saturday 25 April 2015

News Alert! 3 Great New Films About Caregiving!

This week, I've watched trailers for three terrific new films about caregiving.  I hope these are just the beginning of a new trend in movies and story-telling about giving and receiving care at home.

The first is a feature-length documentary airing on PBS in May (check your local listings), titled Caring For Mom and Dad.  Meryl Streep narrates.

CARE is a Ford and MacArthur supported feature documentary still in the editing suite but coming soon.  The filmmakers need $50,000 to complete the final edits to this important documentary and you can contribute to the Kickstarter campaign HERE, but hurry because the campaign ends on May 16th.

Care TRAILER from Deirdre Fishel on Vimeo.

Finally, let me tell you about a gorgeous short doc ( 40 min.) about family caregiving titled 'Minding Our Own'.

Minding Our Own - TRAILER from STUDIO IGY on Vimeo.

This morning, I interviewed the writer and director of Minding Our Own, Inaya Graciana Yusuf.  Inaya is a young American of Indonesian heritage.  Her maternal grandfather suffers from Alzheimer's disease and is cared for by his wife, Inaya's grandmother, with the direct supervision and help of her two uncles. A few years ago, Inaya's grandparents moved back to Indonesia and when her grandfather's needs increased.  More recently, her parents who live in Indonesia took on the responsibility of caring for them. Growing up in a multi-generational household or living in close proximity with family members in Indonesia is quite standard. Younger generations feel a moral imperative to care for their parents, siblings and close relatives because they are exposed to it constantly.

Q:  What are the key messages in your film?

Inaya:  I wanted to highlight the importance of families staying together when someone needs care.  It's important to show the impact of giving and receiving care on the whole family. In fact, I felt the urgency to indicate that even though caring is not for everyone, it has the potential to enhance relationships.  Giving and receiving care involves empathy and sympathy. I think in families, it pushes the boundaries of intimacy. This film unveils what it truly takes to care for another person.

Q:  What do you think are the differences in attitudes towards family caregiving between your Indonesian culture and that of our culture here in North America?

Inaya:  In my Indonesian culture, caregiving in the family is just a given.  We believe that because our parents raised us, we owe it to them to care for them in their old age. It is a cycle, and it is how one would perceive life.  Here in the States, I believe we have a culture of nursing homes.  Putting an older relative in residential care can sometimes be an 'easy out'.  Of course, this is generally speaking and without doubt because as we all understand, every family situation is unique and not everyone is cut out for caregiving. Not to mention, it all depends on the best possible options. However, I think we need to at least try look after those we love 'as much as we can' at home.  I do think that it is crucial that we need to know our limits as caregivers, too.  Being a caregiver is like being a project manager.  Caregivers need to delegate what responsibilities they can handle and which ones to pass on. Both parties need to learn not to be stubborn about negotiating care. 

Q:  What are the barriers you see to people wanting to give care to family members?

Inaya:  I think it's so easy to back away from emotions.  We distance ourselves from family members and generally speaking, our surroundings - some people live far away from their parents.  I was lucky to be brought up having close proximity with my paternal grandparents in Indonesia, but I also had the opportunity of spending my winters and summers with my maternal grandparents in New York. I was able to experience even the slightest changes and witness how people who love each other can be equally vulnerable... to have 'that moment' of care in a natural environment. At the end of the day, I think it is about breaking down that wall. Every single person has built some type of barrier to shield themselves from emotion. It boils down to human capacity.

Q:  Why did you title your film 'Minding Our Own'?  Are you judging those who do not or cannot 'Mind Their Own'?

Inaya:  No!  Not at all. I think the title itself is a multi-layered experience. I wanted to play with and explore the meaning of those words. 'Our own' could mean 'ourselves' and 'our time' as caregivers too.  That's why I emphasised knowing one's limits as a caregiver and then being able to ask for help and delegate.  As I said before, it is not for everyone. Thus, I wanted to celebrate caring for our own family members at home too and to underscore that care at home has very great value. Caregivers are our modern day superheroes.

Minding Our Own, will be premiering in NYC at The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, May 15th, 2015 at 6:15pm at St. Francis College, Maroney Theater. For tickets please purchase at:

The film will also be showing in Miami, during the Women's International Film and Arts Festival on June 2nd-7th, 2015, exact date and time TBA. To purchase advance tickets, please visit:
On June 2nd, 2015 come find Inaya Graciana Yusuf at Lynchburg, VA during the 2015 Conference on Aging.
Other exciting private, members-only screenings are lined up in partnership with end of May and mid June. Exact dates will be announced.
Please keep up to date by liking the Facebook page (, where more screenings and announcements will be released. Our Twitter is @mindingourown.

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