A documentary feature film following Dr. Peter Reimann and his daughter Hannah Reimann who videotapes the last three years of her father’s life as dementia slowly claims him. Dr. Reimann was a World War II Veteran and passionate lover of culture who speaks intelligently about his illness even as his memory gets dimmer, even as his body weakens and loses its abilities. We get glimpses into his brilliance as well as the confusion and deterioration of his mind as he leaves his home of 40 years and moves into a small apartment. It also reveals Hannah’s life as his caretaker in New Jersey and musician in New York City and the progression of Dr. Reimann’s disease as witnessed by her sister, their faithful Korean housekeeper, neighborhood friends and herself. Music and poetry bind Peter and Hannah together, ultimately providing them a ground for connection as he loses his faculties of hearing, seeing and speaking. The loss of Peter’s Korean wife and Hannah’s mother, Myunghee, in 1996 appears to have ceaselessly haunted him. There is some relationship between this traumatic event and his memory loss. On his deathbed, he experiences flashbacks of the accident that killed her, eventually calmed by his caregivers and hospice medication. This surprising journey defines the final phase of his illness before he finds tranquility.
My Father’s House is a story that helps a viewer understand dementia. It is a story of family, love, music and was created, in part, to help caregivers and families to foresee the experience of caring for someone with dementia. It also presents end-of-life issues in a loving, tasteful way, encouraging audiences to consider the ramifications of a fatal illness and to prepare a peaceful, supportive end for their loved ones. The extended film project includes prominent doctors, scientists and researchers who specialize in the field of Alzheimer’s Disease and who articulate their wishes for patients like Dr. Reimann – these interviews will comprise an ongoing number of short, easily sharable video clips presented on this website as they become completed.
My Father’s House was recently invited to submit a short film version of this larger work-in-progress to the Living With Alzheimer’s Film Project website and competition. This shorter version may be viewed at the following website: http://livingwithalz.org/user_submitted_film/my-fathers-house/