A shared love for art goes hand in hand with a moving documentary about dementia awareness, written, directed and produced by journalist, filmmaker and educator Renee Brack.
Ticketyboo: A High Profile Secret, is part ode to a grieving daughter’s father and part advocacy piece – aiming to raise awareness on how to talk, connect and care for the people you love and who have Alzheimer’s disease.
The feature will premiere at the Melbourne Documentary Festival next month, with experts in the field to host a panel discussion at the end of the screening.
Renee Brack said her experiences watching her own father’s decline with Alzheimer’s disease prompted her to make the film, which took eight years to complete.
“My dad died in 2011, and in 2014 I was falling back. I was racked with guilt for not having more conscience and needed to process my grief,” she said .
“We were very close and had a common love for art. He loved realism. I loved surrealism and we were talking. That’s what we did.
“So when he started losing his memory he hid it and I was frustrated with him. I just thought he was a frustrated and cantankerous artist, when in reality he was slipping into illness.
“The way I handled my father’s eventual diagnosis was pretty much a classic example of what not to do. I will carry the guilt about this for the rest of my life, but making this documentary helped me find a way to forgive myself.
She said that with 75% of dementia cases worldwide going undiagnosed, the main driver of the narrative is fostering awareness: learning to respectfully engage with people with the disease in an understanding perspective.
“I hope Ticketyboo can… illuminate and foster some understanding of what is such a misunderstood condition,” Brack said.
The documentary’s name comes from the phrase Brack’s father used to casually insist that everything was fine.
Her secrecy about her condition was driven by shame and denial, which Brack hopes her documentary can play a role in pushing others through.
“If we don’t talk about it, people will make the same mistakes I made,” she said.
“There may not be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are things we can do, and the conversation starts with honesty and openness.”
She said one of the main takeaways for those whose family members are affected by Alzheimer’s disease is to meet them where they are.
“I kept asking open-ended questions, asking about the past, and that’s really the worst thing you can do,” she explained.
“You should ask questions based on the present moment and accompany them in their wild life. [imaginary] adventures. Dance, let yourself be tempted by the stories they tell. It’s a way to connect. »
DemSafe – Community Safety
Alongside the film, Brack is launching a community outreach campaign, DemSafe, with co-producer Cristina Foster.
The aim is to help members of the community who have the disease, with all profits from Ticketyboo being donated at the launch of the campaign.
Brack said cases like that of Bernard Gorea 71-year-old man with dementia who was found dead in a mall stairwell in January 2017 after being missing for three weeks, has highlighted the need to raise community awareness and create a system to support the elderly while they are out.
“He was just walking towards the mall, clearly forgetting where he was and that was the result,” Brack said.
DemSafe’s goal is to create a mall awareness program and campaign to raise awareness of the issue and create an action plan so that cases like the Bernard Gore tragedy don’t happen again.
Brack added that if you see an elderly person who looks disoriented, approach them, reassure them and ask if they are okay.
“Just like a lost child, the same approach should be used with older people with the disease,” she said.
“If in a mall, if they’re confused, take them to the mall management and find a way to contact their families.”
As part of the campaign, Brack said a sign will be created to highlight that a particular area is “a DemSafe zone”.
“The first time my dad disappeared he headed for a lighthouse, so he’ll probably take inspiration from that,” she added.
To donate to DemSafe, you can go to Documentary Australia
All screenings of the documentary will support DemSafe, making malls more dementia-friendly.
Ticketyboo will be screened as part of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival on Saturday July 30. Tickets are available at www.cinemanova.com.au