Interview with documentary director Christian J. Harris (THE LONG GOODBYE)

“THE LONG GOODBYE: AN ALZHEIMER’S STORY” played to rave reviews at the Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival in April 2017. Part of the best of documentary shorts program.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Christian J. Harris: I’ve always been drawn to journalistic pieces. I love human interest stories and this one was so close to me that I had to do it. The couple shown are my grandparents actually. After watching my grandmother whither away into a stranger, I was deeply effected. But it was actually harder watching my grandfather slowly lose the woman he loved. But he never complained and he never considered giving her up, it was true love right in front of my eyes. I just felt I had to tell that story.

From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

About 3 months. I wanted to tell the story right. So it took me a little while to decide on the most appropriate way to portray their relationship.

How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Impervious Love

What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Definitely interviewing Jim, my grandfather. There were some rough, emotional moments during the interview seeing as I was so close to the subject matter. It was the first time I had ever seen my grandfather cry.

What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was amazing. I loved to hear people calling it a “Love Story” because that’s exactly what it was. I was also glad they understood it was meant to bring awareness to Alzheimers.

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Just visiting my grandparents and watching the disease unfold inspired me to tell their story. I’m also a huge sucker for love stories in general.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Cinderella Man. The idea of a man literally fighting to keep his family’s lights on and food on the table is the ultimate story to me.

What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Pools-Glass Animals

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m currently working on a longer human interest piece about the importance of organ donation. I’m telling the story of a liver transplant survivor that has been given a second chance to live. I’m using the story as an anecdote for the cruciality of being an organ donor.

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