The Genius of Marian follows Pam White in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Her son, the filmmaker, works with her as she attempts to write a book that tributes her mother, the renowned artist Marian Steele. As Pam's family comes together to support her, they must also prepare for the new reality that Alzheimer's disease brings.
Just after her 60th birthday Pam White told her family she wanted to write a book to tribute her mother, the renowned artist Marian Williams Steele - it's title, "The Genius of Marian" Pam's mother had passed away five years earlier after suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Less than a year into the book project Pam started struggling with typing and other mental tasks and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's herself. Her son (the filmmaker) Banker White began interviewing her about Marian allowing "The Genius of Marian" project to continue. The film The Genius of Marian follows Pam in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Banker works with and records his mother as she attempts to make sense of her own life by remembering her mother. During these interviews Pam's stories shift from remembering Marian to how she is feeling about her current condition. As a psychologist and social worker herself, she is open and articulate about her current emotional struggles, memory loss, and confusion during these early interviews. The eloquent thoughts we hear are a sharp contrast to her inability do simple tasks like set the table, tie her shoes, or pick up a ringing telephone. Pam is also paralyzed by feelings of fear and shame and for the first time in her life she struggles with depression. Over the next three years we see Pam's husband and three children struggle alongside her, constantly adjusting to her growing needs. Banker's camera captures how the family and close friends come together not only to care for Pam, but also to make sense of this new change and learn to cherish the time that have left together. The film confronts the silent void surrounding issues of aging and death by telling the very personal story of one family's struggle to communicate and prepare for the new reality that Alzheimer's disease brings. The questions that the White family is grappling with are the same questions that millions of families, patients and caregivers are confronted with every day. Some 5.4 million Americans are now living with Alzheimer's disease, which robs them of their independence, memory, and sense of self. In 30 years, the number of cases is expected to soar to 11 million. For each person diagnosed with Alzheimer's, dozens more must endure the dual hardships of grieving the gradual loss of their loved one while learning to care for the person who remains. The coming Alzheimer's epidemic will deeply challenge American families. The Genius of Marian provides a uniquely intimate look at the realities of Alzheimer's disease and breaks through the silence to offer a vision of how families can overcome the betrayals of time and memory, and perhaps even grow stronger in the process. The Genius of Marian is both a close look at a much-feared illness and an intimate portrait of a loving family.