FESTIVALS: * IDFA Competition for First Appearance * Thessaloniki * Tribeca * Hotdocs * Silverdocs * Galway Film Fleadh * Parnü International Film Festival * SANFIC * Reykjavik * Taiwan *
AWARDS: * Best Feature Documentary - Tribeca 2010
Monica & David
Health, Human Interest, Social Issues
Running time |
MONICA & DAVIDexplores the marriage of two adults with Down syndrome and the family who 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.
Directed by Monica¹s cousin, the film has a storybook beginning with a young couple full of hope and laughter. Just before the wedding, a self-assured Monica declares: ³It¹s all about him, and all about me. It¹s my life, to be with my husband forever². By their side are two fearless mothers who realize a lifelong dream‹a ³normal² life for their adult children. Marriage for adults with Down syndrome is very unusual, in part because until recently people with Down lived short isolated lives. In 1983 life expectancy was 25, but today it is 60, with some people living into their 70s.
Although Monica and David¹s love is never in question, the honeymoon slowly subsides as the realities of everyday life sink in. They prepare to move to a new apartment with her mother (Maria Elena) and adoptive father (Bob), disrupting the routine which Monica and David so rely on. In the midst of the chaos, David is diagnosed with diabetes and the couple seems will never be independent.
Throughout the story, Monica and David¹s capacity is countered by their need for assistance, establishing a vague grey line between adult and child. But their parents will not always be around, and Monica and David are can handle adult responsibility when it¹s allowed of them. Maria Elena has an epiphany moment, stating: ³as parents, we want people to look upon our children with special needs like anyone elseŠwith respect and with dignity. And yet because we want to protect them so much, we are typically the first ones who treat them poorly by subconsciously denying them their rights to have a normal life.²
In the end, Monica and David are allowed to take the first steps towards a more independent life, and with Bob and Maria Elena's help, begin to explore work opportunities. At a meeting at Best Buddies, an employment coordinator explains that: ³ultimately, it¹s about independence, independence with the support.² Through the intimate life of Monica and David, the essential issues facing adults with intellectual disabilities are raised‹dating and marriage, independence and employment, the future, and parents¹ need to let go. The audience¹s curiosity invites discussion and a call to offer meaningful opportunities to adults like Monica and David.