ELEHIYA SA PAGLIMOT (An Elegy to Forgetting)
by Kristoffer Brugada
72 minutes | 2020
An Elegy to Forgettingdocuments a filmmaker’s experience with his father’s death due to Alzheimer’s disease. Taken from a personal perspective, the filmmaker gives a first-hand look at how his family dealt with his father’s worsening Alzheimer’s disease and eventual death, leading him to realizations about memory, familial relationships, and his own mortality. The film delves into the importance of memories in the human experience–how the ability to remember makes us feel alive, how its power can hold us, and how memory gives us what we need to feel and be human.
Subjects: Pedring and Pining Brugada, a couple who has been married for more than fifty years. Pedring was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2012.
Writer and Director KristofferBrugada; Producers KristofferBrugada, Cha Escala; Cinematography TopsBrugada, Jason Dimbla, Karen Linaja; Editing Tops Brugada, Cha Escala, Max Canlas, PabelleManikan; Editing Consultant Benjamin Mirguet; Music Peach Quebral; Theme Song Lyrics Marne Kilates; Online Post Production Monoxide Works; Additional Sound Design Emile Balagtas; Poster Design Max Canlas, Berto Enriquez, Ivan Reverente
KristofferBrugada is an independent filmmaker and professional university lecturer from the Philippines. He has over a decade of experience in Philippine local media and has led several documentary productions that have won awards such as the George Foster Peabody Award, the New York Festivals, Japan Prize for TV and the Asian TV Awards.
A film graduate of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Kristoffer recently finished two documentaries—his first feature An Elegy to Forgetting, which had its World Premiere at the 2020 Shanghai International Film Festival as part of its Golden Goblet Award Official Selection. It was financed by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Film Development Council of the Philippines, and was supported by the First Cut Lab, Docs by the Sea, and the Dok Preview Program of Dok Leipzig. His short documentary Bullet-Laced Dreams was financially supported by the Tribeca Film Institute and In-Docs.
Documenting the life of my family as we faced my father’s illness was a task I never thought I could accomplish. Seeing my own father, the man you considered the foundation of your family, deteriorate and succumb to a fight that had been lost at the very beginning has both been traumatic and reflexive.
As my father lost himself to the disease, I also lost myself to anger and apathy. I couldn’t deal with his illness and with who he became. I saw me and my five siblings succumb to our own selfishness. We were frustrated and exhausted by what is happening to our father. We started arguing over finances and who would care for my father. We no longer were the ideal Christian family that supported each other, and this is all because of what we saw with my father’s illness. This is a film about how a family’s dynamics suddenly changed because of one debilitating disease – and how each of us dealt with death differently from one another.
Dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease made me ponder about my family’s own humanity – our weaknesses, our strengths, our frailties – and this helped me take a stand in spreading information about the struggles and vulnerabilities of those afflicted and affected by this disease. When I started filming my father, I didn’t exactly intend on producing a film about our journey, yet as I experienced first-hand the difficulties of coping with the illness – seeing my father’s worsening mental and physical state, witnessing my mother’s anguish, and losing my father to the disease – this pushed me to produce a film that would not just be my own requiem to my father, but a reminder and eye-opener for the public to further understand the graveness of the disease.
The experience of making this film showed me the importance of memories in the human experience. Memories can make you feel alive… or it can trap you in the past. Memories help us to be more compassionate towards each other, giving us empathy, helping us see our own humanity. I have obtained a deeper understanding of how memories –be it painful or happy – can make us feel our mortality. We hold on to memories with the same fervor that we give to letting them go. Memories make us feel our humanness, and this documentary explores that very power that memories hold over us.
This film also remind us that true love isn’t shown in the sweetest moments, but in the hardest of times. Observing how my family witnessed my father’s struggles with the disease through the camera were both a catharsis and a rollercoaster experience. It prepared me for what was about to come. An Elegy to Forgetting is my attempt to present the frailties of our humanity in the midst of imminent demise and the complex role that memory plays in our pursuit to discover our own humanness through life and death.