Gigantic Releasing theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles in February of 2009, to rave reviews.
Awards for Must Read After My Death: International Grand Prix at FID Marseille, Golden Magnolia at Shanghai TV fest, Odissea Prize for 1st Doc at DocLisboa, Gala opening film at FATP Brussels, Audience Award and Special Mention in Florence, Special Mention in Pamplona
Filmmaker Morgan Dews was very close to his grandmother Allis, but it wasn’t until after her death in 2001 that he became aware of an astounding archive she’d amassed throughout the 1960s. Filled with startlingly intimate and candid audio recordings detailing her family’s increasingly turbulent lives, the collection also contained hundreds of silent home movies, photographs and written journals. Using only these found materials, Dews has fashioned a searing family portrait that affords fly-on-the-wall access to one family’s struggles amid an America on the verge of dramatic transformation.
Must Read After My Death follows Allis, her husband Charley and their four children in Hartford, Connecticut. Charley’s work takes him to Australia four months each year, so the couple purchases Dictaphone recorders as a way to stay in touch throughout Charlie’s extended absences. A modern woman at least a decade ahead of her time, Allis struggles against conformity – against the conventional roles of wife and mother. She finds the recordings cathartic and, with the family’s cooperation, incorporates them into their everyday existence. When the family turns to psychologists and psychiatrists, their strife increases and the recordings turn progressively darker – even desperate. All the while, Dews employs the family’s many home movies and the seemingly placid, typically American façade that they convey, as visual counterpoint to the raw and sobering tape recordings.
Written, produced, directed and edited by Morgan Dews.
Composer and recording artist Paul Damian Hogan of Frances has created a lush and engrossing score. Renowned Design Director, Lisa Kwon, fashioned stellar graphics and animated sequences for the film. Executive Producer, Alison Bourke was Executive Producer on This Film is Not Yet Rated and Z Channel: a magnificent obsession. Brett Graves mixed the sound at Creative Bubble.
I made Must Read After My Death with a little help from my friends. Mostly hidden away in a New York apartment with my hard-drives. When it was looking not too terrible, I stuck my head out of my cave for help.
After dozens of festivals and a Gran Prix at FID Marseilles, Mark Lipsky and Brian and Brook Devine at Gigantic, came in and bought the film. They very gently helped me find a new composer, Paul Damien Hogan. The first score wasn't working. Festival audiences had been telling me, but I wanted to be loyal to the first composer. Brian Devine held my hand through a new start with Paul.
We had our amazing theatrical release. And I crawled back into my cave to start working on Lucky Bastards.