Personal message drives ‘A Heartbreaking Journey With Dementia’ short

Billy El Kaddour with a member of the cast.

The impact of dementia on families is never easy to articulate but a new short film is relying on personal experience to convey a relatable snapshot of the condition.

Billy El Kaddour’s A Heartbreaking Journey with Dementia is a 38-minute journey into how the deterioration of a loved one can affect people differently, as told through the perspective of six families.

The script was written by Oscar Cavagnola and was produced by Sonia Qutami for Rophe Films, with production having been completed earlier this year.

The cast includes Olga Tamara, Marina Rowe, Owen Power, Melissa Davidson, and Tahlia Crinis.

While the families at the centre of the film are fictional, the project was made in honour of El Kaddour’s mother, who has dementia.

Qutami, who also stars in the film, said the cast and crew had the opportunity to share their experiences on set.

“One thing that was really amazing was that most of the cast and crew were affected by dementia, either through their grandparents or a parent who had passed away,” she said.

“The film doesn’t just belong to Billy and I; it belongs to everyone because it shows how dementia affects so many people.

“There were a lot of tears on set because it brought back memories of loved ones.

“I suggested to Billy that everyone who had been affected by dementia that worked on the film should say a couple of words after shooting so that it really becomes a personal film with a heartfelt message.”

El Kaddour and Qutami have been working together for the past four years, having collaborated on projects such as the 2019 drama series A Troubled Town, which has since sold to Amazon Prime Video and is available in 80 countries.

While no distributor has yet been lined up for A Heartbreaking Journey with Dementia, Qutami said there are plans for a domestic and international release, as well as festival screenings.

“I’m trying to see if I can sell the film in America and also want to do a Sydney premiere, where I could invite someone from the Dementia Centre or aged care sector,” she said.

“I’ll try to get it to film festivals, as well as other distributors.”