Filmmaker calls them ‘courageous fighters’
The hard work done by caregivers who look after frail family members with love and dedication is the subject of a new eye-opening documentary by a young Brooklyn filmmaker.
Inaya Graciana Yusuf, 27, spent two years making “Minding Our Own,” a 40-minute documentary that will have its world premiere at the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival.
“I’m looking forward to sharing my film and sharing the stories of the families who allowed me to document their lives,” Yusuf, a soft-spoken Cobble Hill resident, told theBrooklyn Eagle on Monday.
“Minding Our Own” will be presented as part of the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival on Friday, May 15, at Maroney Theater at Saint Francis College, 180 Remsen St., at 6:15 p.m.
“Minding Our Own” takes a close, revealing look at family caregivers and the individuals they care for. The film follows the lives of two families –an adult daughter taking care of her 91-year-old mother who has diabetes and heart disease and a speech therapist providing care for her 25-year-old daughter with Rett Syndrome, a type of autism.
Yusuf said she believes “Minding Our Own” provides the viewer with a window into the intimate lives of families who deal with aging and disability.
“I met and spoke with a lot of caregivers before narrowing it down to these two families. I’m grateful that they gave me full access. We developed a bond, a trust, between us. We still keep in touch,” said Yusuf, who holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the School of Visual Arts.
The caregivers plan to attend the film’s premiere, Yusuf said.
The documentary taught the filmmaker many lessons. “I could see, from watching the caregivers put their hearts and all of their energy into taking care of their family members, the importance of having a partnership and compromising each other. Being a caregiver is a rewarding experience emotionally, but it also takes a heavy toll,” Yusuf said.
While there is some governmental assistance available, getting that help takes patience, fortitude, and piles of paperwork.
“I was surprised that there is not an easier platform for family caregivers when dealing with government and health care. It’s a tremendous task on top of the actual caring itself. Caregivers in general are courageous fighters. Some states are moving faster than others in recognizing the needs of family caregivers by introducing legislation. I hope that this would help them continuously in managing the care from home, which allows them to focus more on providing the best care, the best solution possible for their loved ones,” Yusuf said.
Yusuf came to her subject matter through her own experience. Her grandmother was a caregiver to her grandfather, who had Alzheimer’s. “I witnessed it first hand in my family,” she said, referring to the struggles associated with care-giving.
An Indonesian-American, Yusuf was born in California and raised in the U.S. and Indonesia. She is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design, where she studied graphic design. She became interested in film while serving an internship with a video production company.
A stint working in a museum made her realize that she wanted to be a documentary filmmaker. “I loved history. I wanted to tell people’s stories and backgrounds,” she said.
Like many families, hers had to make hard decisions. Her grandfather’s disease led to a big move. “My grandparents ended up moving to Indonesia after living here in the U.S. since the 1950s,” she said.
Yusuf is the founder of Slow Your Roll Films. She has worked on short documentaries to feature length projects such as “Miriam,” and “Amplify: The Story of Synesthetes.” She recently worked under writer-editor David Tedeschi on Martin Scorsese’s documentary “The 50 Year Argument.”
Tickets for “Minding Our Own” are $10 per person. A 20 percent discount is available to those using the code 15AOBFF20 when they purchase tickets online at https://www.universe.com/events/minding-our-own-tickets-brooklyn-FKJ7M.
For more information on the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, visit http://www.theartofbrooklyn.org/art-of-brooklyn-film-festival.html.