Eight months since its world premiere, Screen Studies Professor Soren Sorensen’s documentary “With Dad” shows no signs of slowing down. The film won Best Short Documentary and Best Editing last month at the 2021 Red Dirt Film Festival in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and was nominated for four awards in all, including Best Director and Best Cinematography.
“With Dad” is also an official selection of the 2021 New York City Independent Film Festival and will be screened on Sunday, June 13, at 1 p.m. at the Producers Club, 358 W. 44th Street. Masks and social distancing will be mandatory. For more information and tickets, click here.
The film recounts Professor Stephen DiRado’s chronicling of his father Gene’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease through photographs, which he turned into the book “With Dad,” released in 2019 by Davis Publications. The film’s public rollout was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but “With Dad” has been a fixture at festivals throughout the past year.
“To be honest, I never expected our little film to be as well-received as it has,” Sorensen said, “not because I’m not immensely proud of the work — I am — but I assumed the pandemic would severely limit its audience. In truth, the opposite has happened and, with online screenings, I’m sure we’ve reached a far larger audience than we might have in a more conventional film festival season. I’m just incredibly grateful for all the hard work that went into completely transforming film festivals and truly rescuing films like mine that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.”
The accolades earned at the Red Dirt Film Festival are just the latest in a string of honors for “With Dad.” In 2020, the film won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Short at the Mystic Film Festival, Best Documentary at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival, the Youth Jury First Prize for Best Short Documentary at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, and a Gold Remi Award in the Documentary Short category at the Houston International Film Festival.
“I am proud of how Soren handled an incredibly sensitive topic that could have easily veered into sensationalism,” DiRado said. “I also immensely value my brother Chris DiRado’s contemporaneous video recorded in the nursing home during the last years of our father’s life. As loving brothers, we both found the strength to record the devastating progression of this disease through our belief that our father, even in his limited state, knew this was for a greater cause for all.”
DiRado said that with the film winning awards, “there is an overwhelming and galvanizing feeling that we all did the right thing.”
Sorensen is in talks with several PBS stations, and “With Dad” will have its broadcast premiere in September, World Alzheimer’s Month, on WGBH, Boston’s PBS outlet.