Families of the Trisomy 21 program are invited to a special screening of the award-winning documentary Monica & David on Friday, March 15, 3 p.m. in Stokes Auditorium, on the first floor of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Monica & David explores the marriage of two adults with Down syndrome and the family that strives to support their needs. Monica and David are blissfully in love and want what other adults have — an independent life. Full of humor, romance and everyday family drama, the film uses intimate fly-on-the-wall footage to reveal the complexity of their story. While Monica and David are capable beyond expectations, their parents, aware of mainstream rejection of adults with intellectual disabilities, have trouble letting go.
Learn more about the film from this interview with director Alexandra Codina.
On her inspiration for Monica & David, her first film
I wanted to make a film for a while, but was waiting for the right story. Several weeks before my cousin Monica’s wedding, it finally hit me. Everyone was very happy for Monica when she found David, but there seemed to be an unspoken feeling that this was a cute gesture between two kids, rather than a serious adult commitment. My initial motivation was my love and admiration for Monica and David, and frustration with people’s lack of understanding. As the project progressed, I began to understand the profound issues, including the vague line between adult and child, and how that inability to easily define Monica and David allows people to shut them out. I wanted to give people the opportunity to experience their world in an intimate way.
On the challenges of working with family
Shooting family is very difficult, especially when you are close to them. We shot the majority of the film during a time of chaos and transition, when Monica and David moved from their home of many years into a smaller apartment almost an hour away. I dreaded having to call my aunt to ask for shoot days, and although she was very open in front of the camera, she hates having her photo taken. It was a huge relief when my family saw the film and loved it, especially Monica and David, who are natural-born stars.
On how audiences will respond to her film’s subjects
Monica and David’s love, charisma and humor are contagious. By the end of the film, you want to be their friend and continue to spend more time with them; at least I hope people will feel that way. I know that there are two very different perspectives for audiences coming to see this film — those who have personal experience with individuals with Down syndrome or other disabilities, and the majority of audiences who have never had a conversation with an adult with an intellectual disability.
I worked closely with [the film’s producer] Deborah Dickson and am a big fan of her work, including Lalee’s Kin. Frederick Wiseman is also very inspiring: Public Housing and Titticut Follies.
And looking toward the future
I’ll be editing a short on the last season of a 96-year-old farmer in rural Connecticut, and I am considering producing a project. I’m also going to spend time learning to shoot and the basics of editing. You can see clips of the film at http://www.monicaanddavid.com/.
Monica & David
A film by Alexandra Codina
A production of CineMia LLC & HBO Documentary
What: Monica & David Documentary Screening
When: Friday, March 15, 2013
Time: 3 p.m.
Where: Joseph Stokes Jr. Auditorium, first floor Main Building
Who: Open to families
Winner: Tribeca Film Festival, Best Documentary
Winner: National Down Syndrome Congress, National Media Award
Nominee: Emmy Award, Outstanding Informational Programming