The BlackStar Film Festival, which features films by Black, Brown, and Indigenous artists from all over the world, is an annual celebration of the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and of global Indigenous people.
In her latest feature documentary, Wisdom Gone Wild, award-winning director and filmmaker Rea Tajiri offers an alternate viewpoint into the world of dementia and caregiving. The film will have its world debut at Philadelphia’s annual BlackStar Film Festival. Rather than centering a film around the disease of dementia, the film is centered around the valued content of a long-lived mind. The documentary will be shown at the Zallerbach Theater, Penn Arts Live, on Saturday, August 6, at 3 p.m. On the website for the BlackStar Film Festival, tickets may be ordered for both online and physical screenings.
Her sixteen-year journey as her mother’s care partner, Rea Tajiri, shows how she evolved toward a new perspective on aging and mortality in the film Wisdom Gone Wild. Rose Tajiri, Rea’s mother, is a time traveler, a historian, and an expert on the experience of Japanese Americans. She is 93 years old. Rose, who was 76 years old when she was given a dementia diagnosis, gets cues for her non-chronological access to important historical events from her daily interactions and memories.
My intention was to create a film that is a reflection on the possibilities of care, connection, and communication with someone living with dementia. The form of the film is a non-traditional storytelling structure that crisscrosses time much like my mother’s cognitive style.Rea Tajiri
Rea embarks on a sixteen-year trip and learns lessons by paying attention to the metaphors her mother uses in her speech. Rose talks about her experiences being detained in a detention camp during World War II and growing up in the Salinas, California neighborhood of Japanese Americans who were strawberry farmers. As Rea and Rose forge a special bond based on play, improvisation, and comedy, he learns to pay attention to Rose’s hopes and anxieties. Through listening, creativity, and music, they foster their relationship as a couple. As we watch Rose’s development over nine decades of life, each modified by a journey through memory and the mind, she performs songs from her youth, serving as the music for time travel.
The BlackStar Film Festival, which features films by Black, Brown, and Indigenous people from all over the world, is an annual celebration of the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and of global communities of color. Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s BlackStar Film Festival will take a hybrid approach. It will run from August 3–7 and feature live and online screenings, panels, an evening show, parties, and other events.