Idea to document parallel stories of life after loss in White Rock pitched

Vancouver filmmaker hoping community votes will help fund sequel to Before She’s Gone

Producers of a film that documented the love story behind a White Rock couple’s journey with Alzheimer’s Disease are hoping an idea for a sequel that ties in with the city’s pier damage and recovery wins the votes of the local community.

Arun Fryer said After She’s Gone will “sort of pick up where (Before She’s Gone) left off, answer some of the questions that kind of address what happened to Shirley, what happened to grandma, and then sort of pick up where Stan’s life left off from there.”

READ MORE: Short film shares White Rock couple’s love story

Before She’s Gone – co-produced by Fryer’s wife Ana Carrizales – premiered in Vancouver in January 2017, sharing the enduring love story of Stan and Shirley Fryer’s decades-long marriage and how they approached Shirley’s 2002 diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease.

Arun Fryer, the couple’s grandson, embarked on the first project to promote dialogue and bring awareness to a brighter side of the Alzheimer’s journey – “to tell the love story behind the Alzheimer’s.”

He told Peace Arch News Monday that a sequel had been in discussion for a while, but exactly what it should look like – paralleling his 95-year-old grandfather’s new reality after Shirley’s death with White Rock’s healing in the wake of devastating storm damage to its iconic pier – only hit him a few weeks ago.

“I was just about to fall asleep when I had this idea of the pier and White Rock, and it just matched so nicely for the sense of loss my grandfather was going through at the exact same time, and then both of them trying to rebuild a new identity and a new sort of life for themselves,” he said.

READ MORE: White Rock pier fundraising committee launches campaign

“Tell these two stories in parallel, with the pier sort of acting as a nice, strong visual metaphor of trying to rebuild after some loss.”

Fryer has pitched the idea to Telus Storyhive, which is hosting a competition to fund 30 documentaries across B.C. and Alberta.

Part of what will determine the winners is four days of community voting. That process began at noon Tuesday (May 28) and will close at noon on Friday (May 31).

Fryer said people can vote every day, and the results will guide which projects move on to jury selection.

He noted the passion of both his grandfather and the White Rock community to embrace life after loss is not the only impetus for the documentary.

“We strongly feel as a team, there’s just not a lot of stories centred around seniors. It’s sort of an older demographic that often gets really ignored in a lot of our society,” Fryer said.

“It’s kind of a shame, especially compared to other cultures… where the elders are really respected. We just wanted to tell some other stories that don’t get seen very often, and more a celebration of life – you can still have a really good, vibrant life even at the age of 95.”

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