Forgetting Dad

( Germany, USA / 2008 )
Forgetting Dad
Forgetting Dad
One week after a seemingly harmless car accident, Richard Minnich wakes up with total amnesia. He no longer recognises his wife and children and has a great deal of difficulty with the simplest daily tasks.
Sixteen years later, filmmaker Rick Minnich - the oldest son from Richard's first marriage - returns to California with a camera in search of answers to why his father's memory still hasn't returned. Was Richard really struck by a horrible affliction, or was he perhaps trying to escape from a life he could no longer lead?

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Formats: Digital Copy, DVD
Running Time: 84 min.
Theme: Family, Health, Personal Story
Language(s): English
Director(s): Rick Minnich see all »
Producer(s): Olaf Jacobs
Cinematographer: Axel Schneppat
Editor(s): Rick Minnich, Matt see all »
Forgetting Dad


  • "A film which questions Richard Minnich’s amnesia with great sensitivity and suspense."
    Christine Ritzenhoff
  • "Breathtaking documentary."
    Joachim Kurz
  • "An unparalleled, touching documentary."
    Matthias Wannhof
  • "Incredibly fascinating."
    Alexandra Seitz
  • "A Fascinating Film."
    Gil Whiteley
  • "Another pick for one of the top independent docs of the decade. The filmmakers' dad develops amnesia, and rejects the relationship they once had. Both fascinating and heartbreaking, this is why we love CINEMA."
  • "...a clever allegory about the United States of Amnesia, wherein wind-blown men can remake themselves in an instant."
    Paul Sturtz
  • Thumbs up: "A thrilling and moving film..."
  • "An incredibly bizarre journey across America with increasingly surreal imagery."
    Martina Knoben

Academic Notes

  • "Forgetting Dad" is a carefully crafted, thought-provoking family mystery story about memory. It reminds us that remembering can be even more painful than forgetting. It provokes questions in seeking answers. We all need to figure out who our parents are, and this becomes a lot harder when they don't seem to know that themselves. Well worth watching."

    David Spiegel, M.D.
    Willson Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
    Director of the Center on Stress and Health
    Stanford University School of Medicine

  • We never get to see the longitudinal follow up of the people who say 'No, thank you. I don't want therapy....' And this was a chance for me at least to see what happens twenty years later to someone who says, 'No, I don't want treatment.' For those of us clinicians, that's a very rare opportunity ... Thank you for letting me see that ..."

    Thomas G. Carlton, M.D.
    International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation
  • “Raw and honest. Captures the mystery of these kinds of disorders and how challenging it can be for everyone involved.”
    Catherine C. Classen, Ph.D., C. Psych. Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
  • “The greatest strength of this film is in understanding the effects on families of dealing with serious mental illness. Do you divorce yourself from the family member or at worst become enmeshed with the disease? This is an inevitable lesson to be gathered from the film.”

    Robert G. Jones,
    Professor and Department Head, Department of Psychology, Missouri State University
  • "A Fascinating Film."

    Gil Whiteley, Denver Daily News
  • “Rick Minnich’s FORGETTING DAD served as the centerpiece of an outstanding program at the South Pasadena Public Library. The film’s true tale unwound like a suspense story as our audience learned more details about the mysterious case of amnesia of Rick’s father. Not only is the documentary compelling and engaging, it is also emotional and moving because it’s so intensely personal. It also stimulated an extremely lively and provocative Q and A session afterwards. I would unhesitatingly recommend FORGETTING DAD to other libraries.”

    Steve Fjeldsted City Librarian South Pasadena Public Library
  • " of the top independent docs of the decade. The filmmakers' dad develops amnesia, and rejects the relationship they once had. Both fascinating and heartbreaking, this is why we love CINEMA."

    Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute
  • “Rick Minnich tells the story of his father, who lost his memory at the age of forty-five and became an unapproachable stranger to his family, in a way that has all the excitement of a detective story. Minnich’s carefully crafted documentary impresses the viewer due to the very direct and personal insight it gives into the feelings of a family who are dealing with this traumatic situation in very different ways....An eerie, impressive film that is deeply moving."

    The FBW-Filmbewertungsstelle Wiesbaden, in awarding the film its highest seal of approval.

awards & accolades

  • Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, Netherlands - Special Jury Award
  • Achtung Berlin – New Berlin Film Award, Germany - Honorable Mention
  • Ippokrates Health Film Festival, Greece - Audience Award
  • Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival, China - Grand Jury Prize
  • Dallas Video Fest, USA - Honorable Mention

Festival participation

  • Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, Netherlands 2008
  • Göteborg International Film Festival, Sweden 2009
  • Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis, Germany 2009
  • True/False Film Fest, USA 2009
  • Belfast Film Festival, Northern Ireland 2009
  • Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, USA 2009
  • It's All True International Documentary Film Festival, Brazil 2009
  • Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Canada 2009
  • Doc Aviv, Israel 2009
  • Planete Doc Review, Poland 2009
  • Achtung Berlin – New Berlin Film Award, Germany 2009
  • Doxa Documentary Film Festival, Canada 2009
  • Biografilm, Italy 2009
  • Guth Gafa Documentary Film Festival, Ireland 2009
  • Stranger Than Fiction Documentary Film Festival, Ireland 2009
  • Ippokrates Health Film Festival, Greece 2009
  • Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, USA 2009
  • Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival, China 2009
  • Ourense International Film Festival, Spain 2009
  • Dallas Video Fest, USA 2010

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Additional Info

Production Company: Hoferichter & Jacobs GmbH
Distribution Company: Films Transit International Inc.

  • About the directors

    Rick Minnich – Writer / Director
    Rick Minnich was born in Pomona, California in 1968 and grew up in Kansas, Arizona and California. After graduating with a B.A. in English Literature from Columbia University in 1990, he moved to Berlin, where he studied directing at the Film and Television Academy “Konrad Wolf.” His graduation film HEAVEN ON EARTH won the 2001 Babelsberg Media Prize for best documentary graduation film in Germany, and in 2002 it took the FIPA d’Or in Biarritz and numerous other prizes in the United States and Europe. It also screened at IDFA in 2001. Rick Minnich’s films have been shown throughout Europe by such TV broadcasters as ARTE, WDR, ORF, etc. FORGETTING DAD is his third feature-length documentary. It follows HOMEMADE HILLBILLY JAM (2005, released in the US by First Run Features and in Germany by Epix Media AG) and GOOD GUYS & BAD GUYS (1997).

    Matt Sweetwood – Co-writer / Co-director / Editor
    Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1971. He currently lives in Potsdam, Germany. Sweetwood studied film at the California State University San Diego. He has broad experience as a script writer and director in both the United States and Germany. His scripts include THE JEWISH SANTA CLAUS (Edgar Reitz Filmproduktion, Germany) and THE STROKE (Flying Moon Filmproduktion, Germany). He wrote the script and directed the documentaries THE STORY OF LIBERTY and LIBERTY AT WAR (2004). He also edited the documentaries DESERT DREAMERS (2005) and HOMEMADE HILLBILLY JAM (2005, which he also co-wrote).

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Forgetting Dad

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