In his prime Edwin Honig was a distinguished and successful poet, translator, literary critic and university lecturer. At 91, however, and in the final stages of Alzheimer's, he has lost almost all connection with his own past, his family and his personal identity.
Documenting his mentor, friend and first-cousin-once-removed across five years, award-winning director Alan Berliner takes us deep into the heart of this devastating illness with extraordinary intimacy. A complicated and courageous individual in his youth, Edwin now oscillates between lucidity and unbearable confusion. With tangible love and respect for his subject, Berliner captures moments of great humour and beauty, encouraging Edwin's poetic spirit to frequently break free of the fog of dementia.
Revealing, articulate and moving, First Cousin Once Removed is at once a humanistic portrayal of one person's journey into mental decline, and a call for us all to look deeper at our relationship with our own memories.
Alan Berliner's uncanny ability to combine experimental cinema, artistic purpose, and popular appeal in compelling film essays has made him one of America's most acclaimed independent filmmakers. The New York Times has described Berliner's work as "powerful, compelling and bittersweet... full of juicy conflict and contradiction, innovative in their cinematic technique, unpredictable in their structures... Alan Berliner illustrates the power of fine art to transform life."
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"Devastating and philosophical ... [Berliner's] crowning achievement." Indiewire
"Berliner crafts a quietly touching and illuminating memento mori from the steady dying of an intellectual light" Hollywood Reporter
"His strongest work yet....Mr. Berliner's film bravely brings us to the edge of language and experience." New York Times