‘The Long Goodbye’ by Steven G. Smith

The documentary chronicles a father and daughter living with and caring for someone who is living with dementia
‘The Long Goodbye’ by Steven G. Smith

What is The Long Goodbye and how did it come to be? 

I started The Long Goodbye to help others understand that dementia affects not just the person who is living with the disease, but also their loved ones. A long-term photo essay and a short film, The Long Goodbye took over two years of careful work to create. It also includes essays written by the full-time caregiver and daughter of the dementia patient.

Through The Long Goodbye, I hope to give a personal and intimate look into the world of dementia and the daily struggles and triumphs that come with it. My goal is to help educate, raise awareness, and offer support to those who may be going through similar experiences.

Who initially inspired you to grapple with dementia? 

Dementia thoroughly altered my dad, Daryl Smith—and our family—and taught me just how hard it can be to care for someone with dementia.

When I don’t understand something, my impulse, as a visual artist, is to create a story about it. That instinct, by way of a Facebook group for caregivers of people with dementia, connected me with Leandra and George Manos, whose lives I have been chronicling since the spring of 2021.

Leandra gave up her job in March 2020 to be the full-time caregiver for her father, who was in a late stage of dementia. And though the work has been hard, she takes comfort in knowing that her dad is getting one-on-one care, and she can notice the slightest change in his condition.

Related: Where caregiving is a family affair, Alzheimer’s places a heavy burden on children and spouses.

Both Leandra and George—who has lucid moments throughout the day—approved and endorsed this project.

How has working on dementia-related art changed you?

Engaging in this project has provided a crucial dimension of self-reflective contemplation, emphasizing the significance of art as a means to convey personal topics. My work has historically focused on social issues and has taken the form of documentary essay.

This project continues to show on the international independent film festival circuit.

How has The Long Goodbye been received? 

The primary caregiver played a significant role in the planning stages of this project. It was important that she had agency in a project that shared so much. This project has gone on to be shown at over two dozen International film festivals and won major awards, including Florence Film Awards, Florence, Italy, Winner, March 2024; Nigeria International Film Awards, Lagos, Nigeria, Winner, Dec. 2023; Vyre Film Festival, North Hollywood, California, Social Awareness Award, Nov. 2023;  Toronto International Filmmakers’ Festival, Canada, Winner, Best Film on Disability Issues, Nov. 2023; Cannes World Film Festival, Cannes, France, Finalist, Best Humanitarian Film, Oct. 2023; and Red Movie Awards, Reims, France, Finalist, Best Documentary Short, Oct. 2023. 

This work is dedicated to: This project is dedicated to my mother (Gladys Smith) and father. My mother was my father’s caregiver during his battle with dementia.

Find more about Steven G. Smith on Instagram or his website.

What is a Spotlight?

The Dementia Arts Spotlight promotes visual and performing artists who are grappling with dementia through original work or innovative arts programs. The Spotlight—in a Q&A format where artists describe the details and significance of their work or program—connects each artist to the Dementia Spring community. Find examples of prior Dementia Arts Spotlights here. Know of an artist whose work should be Spotlighted? Send them this link!

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