Alan Berliner: First Cousin Once Removed

Famous for his film about his father, ”Nobody’s Business”, clever and funny with an excellent, playful montage, it was simply great to watch the newest documentary by Alan Berliner, also with a family member as main protagonist, also with a playful montage and also a tribute to Life even if it deals with Edward Honig, who has Alzheimer’s disease, sits in his chair through the whole film, with family archive material flasbacks here and there and everywhere, shot over five years, a wonderful experience, because Edward Honig was wonderful to meet, a poet and a translator of poetry, among others Portuguese Pessao, a man on his way away from the Life he had been praising again and again, sitting in this room full of books and papers not knowing why and where and what and who.

Berliner asks and asks and gets moments out of Honig, at the same time as he tells the story about him, twice married, haunted his whole life by feeling guilty for the death of his brother when a child, and treating his sons of second marriage really bad. He gets the second wife and the two children into the film as well as other key witnesses to the life of Honig. As well as the director’s own son in musical sequences with the old man. When Honig answers Berliner, he does it normally with a humourous reaction to his own situation, that makes Berliner make excellent associative sequences (often with trains through tunnels) that loosens up tension and gives us viewers a bit of free time to reflect… well it could be on ”la condition humaine” to use a kliché. There are many films about Alzheimer’s disease, and it is indeed hard to watch what used to be a strong, well formulated man get to the point where he expresses himself with sounds, that Berliner refers to as an inspiration coming from outside the window of the room where he sits. From the birds. ”Remember How to Forget”, Honig says, ”little boy, I like you, take me for a ride in your story”, which is what Berliner has done with respect and a storytelling that is non-chronological with an elegance, that makes you think what a wonderful thing FILM is.

USA, 2012, 78 mins.

Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3875