65-year-old dementia patient Jack Schiazo has just been discharged from the hospital after a nasty fall. His balance and intellect have abandoned him. His wife and two grown kids won’t stop hovering. His friends now talk about him like he’s a non-entity. Jack wants to go.
Jack’s struggles with illness draw parallels to challenges he faced earlier in life. In 1975, he has just graduated college and moved back in with his parents. He has a soul-sucking job, no girlfriend, and his dad wants him to pay rent. Jack wants to go.
The two storylines intersect when both versions of Jack try to escape from home. Whether young and spry or old and sick, his mantra remains the same — it’s time to go.
The basis of this film comes from personal experience. In June of 2016, my father was in a bicycling accident and suffered a severe concussion. He immediately started experiencing cognitive deficiencies and eventually was diagnosed with Progressive Nuclear Palsy, a rare degenerative condition with symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
My father was a mountain climber and a newspaper reporter, so his loss of mobility and cognition were particularly frustrating for him. Our family struggled to keep him from doing things he was used to doing – climbing the stairs, driving his car, etc. When he would try to get up by himself, we’d ask him “What do you need?” to which he would respond, “It’s time to go.”
With this film, we hope to reassure those suffering from degenerative illnesses that their lives aren’t defined by one phase. A person might be struggling to walk in one moment, but they could be a mountain climber in another. Which person should we remember? We are also aiming to shed light on the issue of elder care at a time when baby boomers are reaching retirement age and our healthcare system is already maxed out.
The film does not offer any illusions of a happy ending. These conditions do not end well and can get very ugly along the way. We have aimed for a hyper-realistic depiction of symptoms to tap into the emotional core of the issue. Early feedback on the script has shown that almost everyone can relate in some way to these experiences. We balance this profound sadness with moments of humor to ease the pain and highlight the absurdity that comes along with caring for someone in this condition. We aim to give viewers both a good laugh and a nice, cathartic cry.
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