Documentary Review: ‘It’s Not A Burden’

Review by James Lindorf

Examining mortality through film is nothing new for writer and director Michelle Boyaner. However, her latest project, “It’s Not a Burden: The Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents,” gives her a new perspective of being in front of the camera. “It’s Not a Burden” is a humorous, heartfelt, and occasionally terrifying portrait of the lives of children navigating the challenges and joys of caring for their aging parents. While they are all going through the same experience, the details are as different as their backgrounds. Hearts are broken, and tears are shed, but family bonds tighten, and communities come together, exemplifying our capacity to love. “It’s Not a Burden” will be distributed by Gravitas Ventures and will be released on VOD in the US on June 1, 2021. For more information about the film, visit www.itsnotaburden.com.

When you combine her family-centric work on the Emmy nominated “Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson,” and her embrace of life and death in “A Finished Life: The Goodbye & No Regrets Tour,” no one may have been better prepared to create this film than Michelle Boyaner. After the death of her sister, Michelle became the primary care provider for her divorced elderly parents. Each of them presenting their own physical and mental health challenges. The task is often scary and overwhelming, but it isn’t without its rewards. The compassion and love required to care for her mother helped heal a decades-old rift between the pair. Michelle knew that she couldn’t be alone. With America experiencing its largest elderly population ever, there must be thousands if not millions of people facing the same issues. So instead of just sharing her story, she decided to talk to dozens of adults in her position.

Anyone with a fear of aging or losing mental faculties “It’s Not a Burden” may seem like a horror film. But beyond the struggles and indignities that can come late in life, there is a sense of family and love that crosses generations and unites us all. No one wants to be in this situation. Whether you’re watching someone who was your hero struggle or being forced to ask for help, the emotional hurdles can seem impossibly high. The emotional content of the film is incredibly high and will result in countless tears. Unfortunately, the quality of the film itself struggles to live up to its subject. Given the circumstances, like being made by someone on the inside, you probably couldn’t ask for anything better. However, “It’s Not a Burden” feels woefully underfunded and occasionally amateurish. I initially thought there was a passionate and talented first-time filmmaker behind the camera.

The impetus for creating “It’s Not a Burden” was to provide hope and a sense of community to everyone in this situation. To tell them, I know you are feeling alone and that you’re swamped by chores, doctor appointments, and your own emotions, but you’re not alone, and there are many people you can lean on and learn from. While it occasionally struggles as a film, its heart sores unrestrained with a message of love and compassion from a group of awe-inspiring people.

Genre: Documentary
Original Language: English
Director: Michelle Boyaner
Producer: Michelle Boyaner, Barbara Green, Katie Ford, Wendy Zipes Hunter
Writer: Michelle Boyaner
Release Date: June 1st, 2021
Runtime: 1h 26m

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