Synopsis: Determined to keep his late-wife’s dream alive, Dick Wall becomes the unlikely spokesperson for her debut memoir and embarks on an unexpected cross-country promotional tour. He’s joined by his filmmaker son, who is torn between saving his mom’s first book and concern for how his dad is coping with their new reality. The journey challenges the pair to talk about loss, relationships and the healing power of sharing stories.
THE BOOK KEEPERS is not a film I intended to make. I wanted “to do something” after Mom died, but a feature documentary wasn’t at the top of my list (not that I even had a list). There was video I had captured to help promote her book. It was footage taken before we knew she would die. Honestly, I thought I’d never find a meaningful way to use it. Meaningful for others, that is.
My dad was invited to a few of the book talks that were not canceled. I, along with my siblings, helped at those presentations whenever we could. It was at those talks that my life changed.
After Dad presented, people would come up to me. They’d ask for a hug, and then they’d share their own personal story of who they had lost. I was shocked at how much their stories helped me. Their thoughts echoed my own–I wasn’t alone.
THE BOOK KEEPERS is an attempt to spark that type of personal exchange. Everyone wants to talk about the person they miss, or the job they lost. We constantly go over these traumas in our mind. Yet we rarely speak of them. My family (specifically, Dad) has the unique invitation to tell complete strangers about our loss. The film I made is a window into that experience, and at its core is this: sharing stories is a path to healing.
Phil Wall is an award-winning filmmaker. He wrote, produced, filmed, directed and edited “The Book Keepers,” which is his third feature documentary. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he works on independent and commercial narrative content.