Dear Audrey (2021) - full transcript

Acclaimed activist filmmaker Martin Duckworth has devoted his life to peace and justice. But now he's put down his camera to fight for the most important cause he's ever faced-caring for his wife, Audrey Schirmer, through the final stages of Alzheimer's. Martin tirelessly embraces each new chapter with grace and resilience-demonstrating his unconditional loyalty as he finds new reasons to love her each day. Dear Audrey intricately weaves together the couple's gritty yet tender reality, and takes us back to their adventures, from the front lines of the anti-Vietnam War protests to the hippie counterculture movement, with excerpts from Martin's films and Audrey's stunning photography. The film is a powerful testament to Martin's love and devotion, which deepens over the decades. While Audrey gradually fades away-and as their autistic daughter Jacqueline struggles with her mother's illness-Martin commits everything he's got to making their lives creative and meaningful. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
[footsteps in slushy snow,
city noise]

[slow emotional piano plays]

[excited chatter]



[children laughing and

[siren wailing]

[children laughing]

[distant city noise]

[piano playing]

[Audrey whistling]


Makes me cry.



It's... good.

I'm going to, uh...

find other things to do
besides making films.

So I'm trying to get back
into the piano.

[Audrey whistling]

This is what I try to put
Audrey to sleep with at night.

But she didn't want to stand.

She doesn't want to sleep,
she wants to stand by me.


And whistle as I play.

I am determined to do a lot more
book-reading and piano-playing.

And caressing my wife.

And being caressed by her.

[passionate music]

My love for Audrey intensified
during her illness.

It's deeper and deeper
as every day goes by.

And it comes
from the realization

that now that she's going
through Alzheimer's,

that I've become aware
of what a great...

companion she was
in everything I did.

Even though I was absent
half the time,

travelling around the world
shooting films.

I still consider her my...
my lover.

My big romance.

[emotional music swell]

We were very close
from the very beginning.

[Audrey laughing]
It's 44 years now.

And, uh, we're getting closer
as time goes by. Yeah?

- [laughter]
- Yeah.


[soft music]

[blustery wind, snowstorm]

[soft music]

I was born on March the 8th,


International Women's Day.

[blustery wind, cable car rings]

My mother turned out to be quite
an active pacifist feminist.

And she wanted to remind me
where I came from.

I came from a feminist womb
on International Women's Day.

[blustery wind, snowstorm]

It was in Montreal in the midst
of the Depression,

in a huge snowstorm,

which made it very difficult
to get to the hospital.

[blustery wind, snowstorm]

[footsteps in snow]

[whirling winds]

My father had to walk
through fields of snow... get to the hospital.

[emotional music]

So he plowed his way across
several fields to get to me.

Just to see his first new baby.

For the rest of my life I was
always reminded that I was born in a stormy night.

And that therefore,
I was headed for a stormy life.

Yeah, I've been through a lot
of storms.

I've been through
a lot of storms.

[bath water running]

[slow pensive music]

My life is mainly focused
on... on Audrey...

...trying to make her life

as meaningful and creative
as possible.

It's, uh, not-not...

it's not at all difficult, uh,

as long as I have time
to be with her,

because I love her
and she loves me, and...

we're enjoying
each other's company.

It's cold outside.

I think that these, uh,
strawberries are ready.


I think she's passed the
middle stage now of Alzheimer's.

She gradually lost
her vocabulary.

She has a hard time
finding the words

to say what she wants to say.

Has a hard time
getting her pyjamas on

and getting herself into bed
and getting up in the morning.

- [inaudible]
- Yeah.

Yeah. Put that...
put that here.

Put this here.

But it doesn't seem
to bother her.

She retains her good spirits.

But she seems to be, uh,
accepting her...

her fate.

Am I supposed to...

Her mother had Alzheimer's

so she's probably very conscious

of following
her mother's example.

She comments a lot on clouds,

and trees... and flowers...

...funny ways in which people
dress and walk on the street.

So she's very much still alive.

[soft music]


[soft jazz]


Thirteen, fourteen...


This way, Aud. Come this way.
Come this way.


We're on land that was...

first settled by my ancestor
Nicholas Austin in 1783.

The first European settler
in the Eastern Townships.

A lot of great memories.

I've made two films here to
record some of those memories.

The first one with my eight-
year-old twin daughters.

That was my first experience
of fatherhood.

One of the best things
to ever happen to me.

[indistinct chatter]

I've been married three times
in my life.

It's funny. My first
two marriages both ended... very dramatic ways,
sad ways.

And yet, children came out
of both marriages that...

...are great people
and very close to me.

My first wife had just given
birth to twin babies in 1959.

The trouble was that she was
a fresh immigrant

from the big city of Helsinki
trying to adjust to life

in a small rural town
of New Brunswick.

Feeling totally alienated.

It was too much for her.

The kids were about a year old,

and, uh...

I came home one night
and found Satu...

...lying in a flood

of her bl-blood
in the bathroom... the bathroom tub.



It was a total surprise.

I didn't realize
things were that hard for her.

She survived and became
very creative in Toronto.

A very talented writer,
very active in education.

Met another guy,
a very good guy.

And I became their mother
and their father

for the next
two-and-a-half years.

That's why they're very,
very special...


...people for me.

They were three and half
when they moved

to live with their mother
in Toronto.

So I wanted to make a film

that expressed my love
for those children,

even though they were not living
with me.


We have to share that.

[child]: I know, I know,
we'll have turns.

That there was a mother missing...

...and that I was missing
the mother as well... as them.

The film was called The Wish.

[bird chirping]

Grandpa caught a fish!

I can't feed many people
on that.

♪ Evening has come

♪ The morn has spread

♪ Thanks be to God

♪ Who gave us bread

- ...that a shape of?
- D.


[Martin]: So it was an attempt
to express the hope

that those children would...

remain part of my cycle of life.

That was my wish
in making that film.

I never found out
what their wish was.


I've had five other children
since then.

I love them all equally.

[loon call]

[train passing]

[Jacqueline singing]
♪ Girl says hallelujah

♪ Girl says hallelujah

♪ Girl says hallelujah

♪ Girls...


[Martin]: Jacqueline lives
in a wonderful home

for handicapped young people.

♪ Believe me just watch

And she comes home one weekend
every month.

Uh, during which time she spends
most of her time on the computer

listening to her favourite
rock'n'roll musicians.

- [Audrey]: Bingo!
- It's usually Michael Jackson,

but for some reason she says
she hasn't gotten to him yet...


Oh, boy.

[Jacqueline singing]

She's quite a wild creature,

but you should've seen her
20 years ago.

She was 10 times wilder
than she is now.

[Jacqueline singing]

Jacqueline was born in 1976.

We were happy
to have a second child.

But it turned out that she had
serious behaviour problems.

One of them was that she started
disappearing from her room

at the age of two.

So we'd wake up in the morning,

realize she was no longer
in her room.

We had to phone the police

and ask the police
to help us find her.

She did so
for the next 35 years or so,

disappearing all the time.


We'd always find her downtown.

She'd end up with other
young people running away.

She'd get into trouble.
You know,

she was always picked up by guys
who submitted her to sex.

So we always had to have her...

checked out for sexual disease
every time she was found.

Now, maybe I should get back
to my music.

So she was quite a strain
on the marriage, Audrey and me.

Very hard on our sex life too,

because, uh,

Jacqueline would open her door
and disappear at night.

So I slept every night
on the, uh,

floor outside her bedroom door.

Didn't sleep with Audrey
for years.

Exactly! Exactly.

I behaved very badly
with Jacqueline,

not knowing what was wrong.

Oh, sugar plum-a-num-ma-na.

I would raise my voice at her,
I'd shout at her,

and sometimes slap her.

Oh, which I hate to admit.

You know,
very ashamed of myself.

Audrey's stuck with me.
My God,

I'm so...
lucky to have had such a...

faithful partner.

It wasn't until she was
in her early teens

where it became evident
to our medical advisors

that she might have something
called autism.

Well, we'd never heard
of autism.

Audrey never knew
what was wrong with her,

but she never failed

to make her feel
that she was a loved child,

a much-loved child,
whereas I did fail.

I've lived to regret

that short-sightedness
on my part ever since.

Dad, I have an idea.

But I've tried more
to make up for it.

We're now very close.
We love each other very much.

We have a good time together.

- [laughing]
- Oh, God, I love this one.

"There's just no hiding
a good man's heart."

- That's good.
- Hey, this one's for you, Dad.

Listen. This...

"There's just no hiding
a good man's heart."


"A soft touch, then a kind man,

now a great son always."

Oh, that must be
from my favourite mother.

[people singing
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize]


[all]: Yeah!
♪ Keep your eyes on the prize

♪ Hold on hold on

♪ Hold on...

[indistinct speech]

[emotional music swell,
people shouting]

[Martin]: That was the '60s.


The civil-rights movement.

And the anti-war movement.

All of North America was
in revolt against the system.

Those were very exciting years.

[crowd cheering]

We were all hippies, you know?
That was the hippie period.

Free art.

Free love.

Free pot.

[soft music]

And I went along with the crowd
in those endeavours.

I'm really quite ashamed
of myself, you know.



I did a series of films
with the Film Board

about social democracy in Sweden

in the summer of '69.

[bell tolling]

While we shot these films
in the daytime,

in the nights
and on the weekends,

we shot our own films.

[indistinct chatter]

And out of that summer,
I met my second wife, Marianne.

[indistinct chatter]

She became a character in the
film called Untouched and Pure.

Sometimes, if you are... empty.

Empty? You mean open?

Open and empty.

A red-haired beauty.

Very colourful street performer.

[Swedish chatter]

[uplifting music]

I got involved with her... romantically...

...and she with me.


I loved her energy and her...

beauty and her creativity.

So I was there for the birth
of the child when it came.

I wasn't the biological father,
but by that time,

I had coupled up with her mother
so I was there for her birth.

That was not an easy experience,

very exciting,

but when it came to cutting
the umbilical cord, I fainted.

I couldn't stand the sight

of the scissors
cutting the umbilical cord!

The nurse could see
I was on my way out.

I was starting to go,
so she came over and grabbed me.


I ended up being the adoptive
father of her child.


Her name is Thiara.
[phone ringing]



Hi, Thiara. Hi!

I'm just as crazy about her
as my other six kids.

And I think
it's a mutual feeling.


[distant church bells ringing]

[gentle piano music]

[Jacqueline]: This is it!
[Martin]: This is it.

- You want a big one, do ya?
- Mm-hmm.

- How heavy is it?
- Well, it's a little bit heavy.

- They're heavy.
- If you hold the dog Martin...

Yeah? Oh, you mean you think
you could carry it?

- Yeah. Lift it up for me.
- You want to try it?

Can you carry it?
Oh, my God.

Oh, look at that, she's got it.

- How much is that?
- Five dollars.

Five dollars. Really good.


[whimsical music]

Where is she now?

- Right there.
- Oh, right there.


Taking a rest?

[Jacqueline]: Am I nearly there?
[child]: Hello!

Who are these little people?

[kids chattering]
[Audrey laughing]



Yeah, right there,
top of the stairs.

- Thank you, Jacqueline.
- You're welcome.

- That was great.
- You're welcome.

I don't remember when the
walking out started with Audrey.

I know it's been happening
for two or three years anyway.

[gentle music]

If she went out the front door,

I would let her wander off
and follow her

to try to figure out
where she thought she was going.

I learned that she didn't know
where she was going either.

It's as if wanders
just for the sake of wandering.

There's, uh, no...

no end to that wandering.

Very similar to how Jacqueline
used to run away.

Jacqueline never had
an objective in mind.

The only explanation
she had was:

"Well, that's what my feet do.
I don't tell my feet,

my feet tell me to do it,

to run away."

We had tickets
for a play version

of Dostoevsky's The Idiot.

At the end of the first act,
there's a very dramatic scene.

Lots of shouts and cries,
and it comes to a climax.

I turned to Audrey
and she wasn't there.

I've lost her. She's gone.

Everybody's attention was on the
stage at that climatic moment,

including my own attention,

and I hadn't noticed
that she'd...

got up and disappeared.

It was probably too emotional
for her.

So we all dispersed around
the streets looking for Audrey.

This was in March.
Cold weather.

Police had to be called.

They started looking
all around the streets.

There was something
like 20 cars.

They spread out all over
that part of Montreal.

Couldn't find her.
Finally gave up about 11:00.

All went home totally... discouraged.

And at midnight the call came
from the police

that she was found
in the Mount Royal metro station

trying to warm up.
It was a cold March night.

She didn't even have a coat.

[soft music]

It was the height
of the Vietnam War, 1969.

I was over there
with Mike Rubbo.

He asked me if I would do
the camera.

This is the first film
with a political content to it

that I had a chance to work on.

It was scary.

The Viet Cong were closing
closer and closer in,

surrounding Saigon
while we were there.

And you could hear more bombing
going on every night.

[horn honking]
[bells ringing]

We spent most of the time eating
in street-side restaurants.

[heavy rain, city noise]

And I got very sick.


So I spent a week in a U.S.
military hospital.

And I had to watch a striptease
show every night.

Right after supper,
as soon as the supper trays

were cleared out,
a stripper would be brought in.

I was miserably...

sick and was in no...

no condition
to appreciate a strip show.

[city noise, horn honks]

It took me a week to recover,
but the film

was a life-changing experience
for me.

[uplifting music]

[speaking Vietnamese]

[bell tolling]

Mike discovered
that there was a monk

who was doing his work
for peace by establishing

a peaceful colony on a small
island in the Mekong River.

We hear the bombing and the
fighting going on in distances,

and we see military aircraft
flying over all the time,

and military boats going up
and down the river.

But here in the middle
of the river

is a very peaceful community
consisting of monks

and a lot of the refugees
from the countryside.

And that really engaged me
in heart and mind.

It was a turning point
in my filmmaking.

[gong sounding]

So I came back
and I became even more active

in the anti-war movement
and decided that from then on,

I wanted to make films
that had some political use.

It turned me off films
made just for art's sake.

That made me and a lot
of our hippie friends

very aware of how important
it was to...

take part in that movement.

I became quite close
to a lot of Vietnamese people

at that time.

[uplifting musical buildup]

[dog barking]

Is that Rick?

Yeah, I see on the internet
that you have budgies for sale.

We want to train a budgie
to talk.

You have such a bird?

[slow emotional music]

Oh, here we are.

[birds chirping]

There they are.


[emotional music begins to

Can it fly around?

Yeah, yeah.
You have to be careful.

It can fly in the house, so...

Let's choose one of these.

I'll choose the one
that's blue there.

- The blue one?
- Yeah. Yeah, me too.

We'll take the blue one.

[music turns heroic]

He's got it. He got it.
[Jacqueline]: Finally.

- He's putting him in a box.
- Yeah!

- Have a great day.
- Thank you. You too, Dominique.

Thank you.

[French chatter]

[indistinct chatter]

[siren wailing]

She was in the store with us
and now... she's... gone.

She was with us, huh?

- Yeah.
- And now she's disappeared.



Oh, I see her.

Here she comes.

Mom! Mommy!

Where were you?
[indistinct chatter]

[joyful emotional music]

Now let's stick together.


Let's stick together,
all of us.


Or else we're just gonna
lose her again.

- Yeah.
- If we don't stick together.


[music fades away]

[street noise fades in]

This is, like, gonna be fun.

[indistinct chatter]

But you told her.

I told her just today.

I've had, uh...

very hard moments
with the women in my life.

The reason I'm with Audrey

is because of a terrible car
accident I had in Mexico.

When I was with my second wife,
Marianne, from Sweden.

Yes, perhaps,
but not even there sometimes.

She came back with me
to Montreal, with the baby.

It grows in the pores.

On condition that we don't stay
in Montreal.

She wanted to go to Mexico.

So I quit my job
as a Film Board cameraman,

resigned from the Film Board.

It didn't feel like a great deal
at the time.

I was in love with Marianne,
and she said,

"How come you are agreeing
to be a civil servant

with a guaranteed income,

while 97% of the people
in the world

don't have
that kind of security?

What makes you think that
you merit a life like that?"

I said, "You're right.
I don't have any right to that."

So I quit and drove to Mexico.

[rousing music buildup]


[bell tolling]

We heard that there was
an artist colony

in a little village
called Tepoztlan.

And we lived in a small hut
for five-and-a-half months.

So that was a kind of paradise,

which came to a brutal end

when we were driving
on a dirt road one night.

We were going a bit too fast.

I didn't have my seatbelt on.

I'm not even sure there was
a seatbelt in the Volkswagens

at that time.

We hit a rock.

[glass shattering]

I went flying
through the front window.

[dreamy piano music plays]

Landed on my head,

fractured both sides
of my brain.

Ended up unconscious for 10 days
in a local hospital.

I only had a 50% chance
of surviving.

I'll never forget the moment
I got my conscious back.

It was of the most memorable
things to ever happen to me.

I woke up to a vision

of the universe
filled with a huge tree.

It was a green tree
just filling the whole universe.

[uplifting orchestral swell]

It was so large
coming up from the ground,

it spreads out to include
the whole universe,

including all the people
that exist,

all the stars in the heavens,

all the ideas
that man ever had.


And it was an inspiration;

it's been with me ever since
as an inspiration.

How come I'm alive?

I took the tree to mean...

...a sign
of welcome back to life.

[siren wailing]

[indistinct chatter]

I'm gonna close the door
in case the bird flies out.

- Come here, Hopper, come here.
- Dad, come on.

I'm going to close all
the doors in case he gets out.

Okay, we're ready.

Okay, everybody,
ladies and gentlemen...

- Here we go.
- Boys and girls, watch this.

Here comes the action.

Michael, you got a new home.

- Oh!
- No, Dad, no! Just leave him.

Ah! He's a budgie!
He flies free!


[playful, joyful music]

Right there.



[indistinct chatter]

[crowd roaring]



It was the Vietnam War
that brought us together.

[chanting]: No more war!
No more war!

The anti-war movement,
that's how we met.

My second wife, Marianne,
she went back to Sweden.

The car accident I had in Mexico
put an end to that marriage.

[ominous musical chant]

At the height of the Vietnam War
in 1971,

my mother was president
of The Voice of Women of Canada,

quite an effective peace group.

And they invited women
from North Vietnam

who were being bombed to death
by American B52s

to come over to Toronto

and meet women peace activists
in North America.

And one of those women
was Audrey.

So I was there with my camera,

and Audrey was there
with her camera;

she was covering the conference
for a weekly newspaper

in New York at the time.

Her political positions
immediately impressed me.

We were attracted to each other
as photographers, of course.

And she asked me
if I knew a darkroom

where she could develop
her negatives.

I said, "Well the place
I'm staying in Toronto

happens to have
a darkroom in it."

So she came that night
and developed her negatives,


...we woke up in the same bed
the next morning.

I was lucky to find her
at that point in my life,

where I was recovering
from my accident

and getting started again
on a new career.

But she didn't want to be
dependent on me,

she wanted to be
an independent woman.

[people chanting]:
Freedom now! Freedom now!

She took off with her camera and
headed straight to Birmingham

to cover the civil-rights
movement there.

[dramatic musical stabs]

It was a very brave thing
of Audrey

to go down into that territory
with her camera,

which was dominated
by the Ku Klux Klan.

The Klan bumped northern white
activists off.

She was fearless,

taking pictures as she travelled
all over the country.

Audrey was there,
the great March on Washington,

where they arrested -
what was it? -

1,000 people and threw them all

in a sports stadium,

and you were one of them.

[jazzy rebellious music]

There wasn't a big-enough jail to...

...accommodate everybody.

You like that?

She, uh, she likes my hairdo.

And she did her photos of GIs
throwing their medals

on the steps of the Congress.

...Silver Star.
[crowd cheering]

Returning back all this crap.

This Bronze Star here,

they gave it to me
for killing 14 people, man.

[crowd cheering]

[Martin]: Her main strength
was her love of people.

[touching music]

People allowed her to come
into intimate situations.

I was very attached to Audrey,
but I also felt...

a marital obligation
to Marianne,

so I was really torn:
I was in love with Audrey,

but here I was married
to somebody else, uh... in Stockholm.

What am I gonna do?

Just about then is when I got
this job

from the Film Board
to do a shoot in Bolivia.

Before coming home,
I wanted to see Machu Picchu.

It was just the next country over.

That's when Marianne
had left for Sweden

and I had met Audrey.

So that... problem was raging
in my mind, in my heart,

when I camped out
at Machu Picchu.

I slept up there,
under the stars,

sleeping in the ruins.

You could do that back then.

I said, "Okay, I'm gonna
decide here which way I'll go."

And came to the conclusion:

I would have a much more secure
and solid life with Audrey.

Audrey was at that time
in Albuquerque, New Mexico,

doing some photography

of GI veterans
back from Vietnam.

I took a train to Monterrey, Mexico.

I had arranged with Audrey
to meet me there.

She came down by train,
headed south,

and I took a train headed north.

We found a small village
in the Sierra Madre hills.

She agreed to spend the rest
of her life with me.

We even decided that we wanted
to have three children together.

Started to make our plans
for spending our lives together.

[bell ringing]

[indistinct chatter]

I have a total
of 14 grandchildren.

It's a privilege
to feel that...

I'll be leaving behind some...

very creative successors.

[uplifting Mexican music]

Nice shot!

You got it just in time.

Okay, here we go.

Okay, I'll hit with my hands.


[joyous music]

Audrey and I had
our first child, Danielle,

a year and a half after
we settled down in Montreal.

Danielle turned out to be very
conscious of who her mother was

and wanted to follow
her mother's example.

Danielle was born as Audrey
was beginning her career

as a teacher of photography,

and in the midst
of her commitment

to doing a large photo show
of immigrant children.

Very warm, intimate portraits
of immigrant families.

Beautiful framing.

And those projects resulted

in her having
major exhibitions of her work.

I don't think they can come
and get you.

Audrey, she carried
on teaching for 18 years,

until Jacqueline got evicted
from the school she was in,

because she had ran away
too often.

The last time she ran away,

she was missing for a week
and found in a railway station.

We weren't able to find a
proper residence for Jacqueline,

so Audrey devoted
the next 15 years of her life

to looking after Jacqueline.

From the time that Jacqueline
was born,

Danielle always behaved
like a loving, older sister.

Helped us get through the most
difficult times with Jacqueline.

Come with us to the airport.

[Martin]: Always concerned
with social issues.

Danielle chose as a career
to be a healthcare researcher.

Wanting to help the world,
I think,

maybe because of the experience
that she had with Jacqueline.

[indistinct PA announcement]
[playful music]

Audrey and I are celebrating
our 20th wedding anniversary.

I proposed to Audrey many times
over the years,

but she said she didn't want
to marry a guy

who'd been divorced twice.

So 25 years passed,

and her parents were aging
quite quickly,

so she proposed to me.

I said yes right away.

She said, "Well you have to go
and get my father's approval,"

so I went to her father.

He said, "Well I need to have
a list of your belongings,

some indication of security

that you're gonna provide
for my daughter."

So I gave him a list
of what I...

what I thought was an indication
of security.

Sounds like
a real friendly guy.

Yeah. So I listed
the names of all my children,

my grandchildren,

an 18-speed bicycle...

...uh, a dog, a cat,
a rabbit and... and two birds.

And showed him the list
and he said, "Okay, I approve."



I'm a very busy man.
[Audrey laughing]

You're funny.
[bird chirping]

He's riding a Yamaha motorcycle.

Oh. Little...

Who is it?

- Little Nicky.
- Little Nicky?


These are pictures
that Audrey took of our son

when he was two
or three years old. Eh, Aud?

Yeah, probably.

Who is this one?

Doesn't he look like Nicky?

Nicky, yeah.

He was in such misery.

- Who?
- Nicky.

His daddy was too busy
taking his picture

instead of lifting him up
on his lap.

[Audrey laughing]

Nicolas is my favourite son.

[Audrey laughing]

I have seven children.

I had six daughters,
and then a son.

I had to be very careful not
to show preference for him... a father
of six other daughters.

I think I covered it up
pretty well.

- What are you doing?
- Blowing up a balloon.

[Audrey laughing]

Oh, dear.

He treats me...

really beautifully.

Takes good care of my financial
and emotional needs.

The only complaint we have
about him is that...

he doesn't have much time
to see us,

because he's an emergency doctor
at the new hospital.

Works very long hours.
And then what hours he has left,

he likes to devote
to his newfound partner.

Which is what he should do.

I witnessed the birth
of four of my seven children.

One of the most amazing thing
of all is the birth of a child,


It makes you aware
that there's some kind of a...

divine creative energy out there
keeping us going.

One, two, three, go!

♪ Happy Birthday to you

[woman]: Whoo!
♪ Happy Birthday to you

[woman]: Whoo!
♪ Happy Birthday dear Nicky

[indistinct chatter]

♪ Happy Birthday to you

- [applause]
- Bravo!

- Oh!
- Here is to good memories...

from a little boy till now.

So may I introduce to you--


"A Beginning Without End."

"Photos by Audrey Schirmer,

for a birthday along the way."
[happy chatter]

"From Mom and Dad."
[exclamations and laughter]

- [applause]
- Wasn't he a cutie?

[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct chatter]


For the rest of your life.

[indistinct chatter]

[emotional music]


[sad droning choir]

There. You look great.

[Audrey chuckling]

It was, uh...

...two weeks ago today... three in the afternoon.

We were on our way out.

She was in the front lobby,
I was in the bedroom,

and I heard a terrible scream.

She screamed
and fell to the floor.

And I... dashed,

and I saw her...

crumpled on the floor...

...trying desperately
to breathe.

The most horrible thing
I've ever seen in my life.

I thought she was dying.

Had a hell of a time breathing,
choking on her breath,

body completely stiffened.

A horrible sight.

Okay. Audrey, my dear, lunchtime.

Audrey, my dear, lunchtime.

- Dad, Dad, Dad.
- What?

- Let me do it. I can do it.
- Oh, yeah, you do it.

- I can do it. It's lunchtime.
- Alright.

- Okay.
- Want to come and eat?


And thank God the paramedics
were there within 10 minutes.

I had to help them...

...move the body,
move the body

so they could lift her up
and get her in a stretcher.

It took her an hour to get her
conscience back in the hospital,

by which time Nicolas
was able to assure me

that she wasn't dying,
that it was a...

epileptic seizure.

- I got her juice.
- Oh, you got her halfway up.

- Yup.
- Okay.

She's lost her capacity
to speak,

and to recognize people, so...

all that disappeared
with the seizure.

Come, Momma. Come.

Me and your husband
is helping you.

I've got your juice.

She looks as if she's dead, really.

She just walks bent over
and... just shuffles.

She has a hard time walking and...

never raises her head
and never says anything.

Looks as if she's reached
the end.


Here we go.

Okay, my dear, here we go. Good.

Up again. Hey. Great.

We're moving the stuff
of Audrey's down to a place

called Maison l'étincelle,

which means "spark" in English.

It's supposed to, uh...

spark a good life.

It's a brand-new place.

It just opened three months ago
for Alzheimer's patients.

There was one room left
and we got it.

I don't know how aware Audrey is
of what's going on.

[uplifting music]

I had sleepless nights,
worrying about the move.

It's, uh...

...testing me for sure, testing...

It's making it easier

by spending a lot of time here
with her days and nights.

The staff seems to be able
to put up with that.

We spent our first night together,

the night before last, here.

Now I'll spend our second night
together here.

But then I have to get used
to living alone at home.

We signed a contract
for one person, not for two.

[woman speaking French]


[Martin]: She had a seizure,

which speeded up her decline.

She can't remember the names
of her children.

But she never developed
many of the characteristics

that Alzheimer's patients
are supposed to have.

They're supposed
to become aggressive.

Well, she's never shown a sign
of aggressivity.

They're supposed
to start complaining.

I've never heard her do that.

Well, now they say there's gonna
become a phase

where she'll forget...
her partner.

Well, maybe she won't.

[pensive music]


For the most of the last year
that Audrey was home

before she was put
into the nursing home,

Jacqueline couldn't understand
what was going on.

She didn't want to go and see
her in the nursing home.

She still hasn't been able
to talk to Audrey on the phone.


You can talk in the public
to anybody about Alzheimer's

as long as she doesn't hear.

I'm allowed
to speak out loud.

Yeah, but just don't talk
about it when she's around.

- Around.
- Right.


Because we want to make
her feel that she's still okay,

you know,
that she's not too sick.

And instead of...
instead of, uh...

Leaving us, yeah.

It was... it was extremely hard
for Jacqueline.

And as a result,
very hard for me too,

when I think of it, you know.

It's really hard for you to...

not have a wife lying next
to you here and stuff like that.

It's not the same person.

She's just a ghost
of what she used to be.

- It's not the same person--
- She's not... she's not.


But she still likes to caress.
She likes caresses.

She... she caresses my hair
when I--

You mean, like,
pat you like a cat or a dog.

Yeah, when I lay next to her,
she caresses--

Like pat you like a cat
or a dog.

- Yeah.
- Stroke you.

She strokes me
and I stroke her.

We communicate that way.

So that makes me feel
that she remembers who I am,

when she caresses me.

Makes me feel
I'm still her partner.

Yeah, now she knows
she's going to be losing

one of her parents, you know?

It's very hard on her.

So she keeps asking me
how long I'm going to live.

So I keep assuring her it's at
least 10 more years, you know.

And then she also wants to know
how long Audrey's gonna to live.

You and I shouldn't say no.

She can say no,
but we shouldn't say no.

- But she can say the word "no."
- Yeah.

- She can in general.
- Yeah.

She can say no,

but can she say the word
"I love you"?

Or not really?

Yeah, she can say it
if she can find the words.


If she can find the words properly.

Yeah, it'll be interesting to
see if she remembers our names.

- I'll ask her nicely.
- Ask her what?

"Can you remember my name?"

No, no. Then she might feel
badly if she can't remember.

- Oh, okay.
- Yeah.

Let me give you
a little warning.

It takes a while for her to
realize who I am when I'm there.

[indistinct chatter]
And it'll be the same for you.

She probably will not realize
who you are right away.

Jacqueline never...

...adjusted herself to it.

She never came to terms with
the fact that Audrey was ill.

So she just cut herself off
from Audrey.

Stopped talking to her.

Well, Audrey wanted
to see Jacqueline.

Kept asking about Jacqueline.

I think you found it hard
for awhile there, Jacqueline.


It was really,
really difficult for me.


And I didn't wanted
to see her that way.

- Right.
- At that moment.

I just...

[gentle musical build]

Your socks are inside-out.

Why don't you put them

- There you go.
- Thank you.

Lift up your other feet, please.

It took us months
to persuade her

that Audrey needed her as much
as she needed Audrey.

Thank God...

...before it was too late.

[indistinct chatter]



I like your dress.
[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct chatter]


[delightful mysterious music]

I taught a total of about
25 years in film production.

I made some good friendships.

The student notes from my class
at Concordia.

Very good interactions
with the students.

"He's more than just a teacher.
We learn about ourselves."

"Keep up at being kind
and respectable with students,

but sometimes
you have to speak louder."


I didn't believe in marking,
so I gave them all As.

And always had trouble
with administration doing that.

I could never...

...bring myself to believe
that you can...

...evaluate, give a mark
to, uh, to artistic... talent.

I mean,
the main thing is to encourage

the creative spirit
of each person to come out.

And you can't do that
by giving marks.

As long as you do your best
to... to, uh...

express yourself,
you get an A.

I think that life is like that.

If you do your best, you know,
life will give you an A.

[background chatter]

We're going
to another room now.

- Okay.
- Because dinner is ready,

dinner is served.

Monsieur... monsieur...
monsieur Krilley said

that you were laughing with him today.

Who can't for... for himself?

Yeah, he said he had
a good laugh with you today.


[Jacqueline]: You see?
Just like that.

You gonna tell her
about your boyfriend?


Thank you for reminding me.


I broke up with Archer now.

And now I have a new boyfriend
at camp. Alex.


I was asking him: Alex,

"Would you like to go out
with me?"

And he said, "Yes, sure."


I have a new boyfriend
at camp now.

No more Archer.

He's finished.

And now, Alex.


[sad music]

I don't know how long they're
gonna put up with me here,

because I'm the only spouse
that sleeps here at night.

Okay, come over here now.
Let's go to bed over here.

So I'm worried that they'll kick
me out of here,

so I try to keep
a low profile.

- That's what it is.
- That's what it is. Bedtime.

I try to stay invisible
most of the time,

because I want to stay
as long as I can

without being asked to leave.

Okay, sit down there.


That's right.

Okay, head down over here.

Feet up over here.

Head down on the pillow there.

Okay, now you go for a ride downwards.

There's another bed for me
next to hers.

It's a low bed so we have
to push the button

to make Audrey's bed go down

so she joins me at my level
so we can hold hands.

I love her more than ever. Yeah.

Every day goes by,
I love her more.

It's amazing to me, you know,

because I've become more aware

of how much she has meant to me
in my life,

how much she's done for me
and for our family,

and for the world.


So she's... I still see her
as the best person I know,

you know, because of that.

Because of what she...
what I...

what we've been through in these
last 46 years together.

And, uh, I think
she still loves me too.

She says she loves me still.

Those are some words that she
can get out that mean something.

[emotional music]

[gentle rousing music]

[crowd chanting]

I've been in this house
for 42 years.

One year without Audrey.

So it's not the same
without Audrey.

But she's here everywhere.

She's in all these books and
records and films and pictures.

She's very much here,
so I'm intending to stay here...

...the rest of my life.

[birds chirping]

Subtitling: difuze