Documentary, HDCam, stereo, color, 83'

Forgetting Dad

“If your father no longer remembers you, does he stop being your father?” This is the poignant question posed by filmmaker Rick Minnich in the opening scene as he seeks answers for the reasons behind his father’s total amnesia following a minor car accident in 1990. A week after the accident, Richard Minnich no longer recognized any of his family or friends, and he couldn’t perform even the simplest of tasks. The doctors were baffled. His family members — three children from Richard’s first marriage and Richard’s second wife and their two children — were supportive, yet everyone instinctively knew something was terribly wrong. Sixteen years after the accident, Rick returns to his family’s home in California and begins to investigate, only to discover no one — not his two wives, his five children, or his former colleagues — truly knows the real Richard Minnich. Part memoir, part detective story, FORGETTING DAD uses home movie clips and probing interviews to create a deeply personal, painful look at how one man’s choices rippled through the lives of each member of his family.

  • Special Jury Award – IDFA – Joris Ivens Competition
  • Grand Jury Prize – GZDOC Guangzhou (China)
  • Short list – German Film Prize (‘Lola’ – Oscar equivalent)
  • Honorable Mention – Achtung Berlin – New Berlin Film Award
  • 2nd audience award – Ippokratis 1st International Health Film Festival (Kos, Greece)
  • William Dieterle Filmpreis – Special Prize (Germany)
  • Honorable Mention – Dallas Video Fest (USA)

“A bizarre blend of business thriller and family drama.” DER SPIEGEL

“A film which questions Richard Minnich’s amnesia with great sensitivity and suspense.”

“In ‘Forgetting Dad,’ American Filmmakers Questions Identity and Loss – NPR Berlin

“A Fascinating Film.”

“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.” TRUE/FALSE FILM FESTIVAL

Thumbs up: “A thrilling and moving film…”

“An incredibly bizarre journey across America with increasingly surreal imagery.”

“Breathtaking documentary.”
Joachim Kurz, KINO-ZEIT.DE

“An unparalleled, touching documentary.”
Matthias Wannhof, SCHNITT.DE

“Incredibly fascinating.”
Alexandra Seitz, TIP, Germany

“… a captivating saga of family dysfunction” – Video Librarian

  • IDFA (Netherlands)
  • Göteborg (Sweden)
  • Max Ophüls Festival (Germany)
  • True/False (USA)
  • Full Frame (USA)
  • É Tudo Verdade – It’s All True (Brazil)
  • Belfast (N. Ireland)
  • Achtung Berlin – New Berlin Film Award (Germany)
  • Hot Docs (Canada)
  • Planete Doc Review (Poland)
  • Doc Aviv (Israel)
  • Doxa (Canada)
  • Guth Gafa (Ireland)
  • Stranger Than Fiction (Ireland)
  • Biografilm (Italy)
  • Ippokratis 1st International Health Film Festival (Greece)
  • Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival (USA)
  • Docúpolis (Spain)
  • Ourense (Spain)
  • Heartland Film Festival (USA)
  • Hot Springs (USA)
  • St. Louis (USA)
  • Denver (USA)
  • GZ DOC, Guangzhou (China)
  • Sedona International Film Festival (USA)
  • Documentary Edge (New Zealand)
  • Cleveland International Film Festival (USA)
  • Shanghai TV Festival – Magnolia Awards (China)
  • Dallas Video Fest (USA)
  • Nonfiktionale (Germany)
  • Belgium: Canvas, 28 October 2009
  • Brazil: TV Cultura, 21 October 2010
  • Finland: YLE FST5, 3 August 2009, 21:50
  • Canada: Knowledge Network, British Columbia, 19 January 2010, 21:00, 20 January 2010, 0.00
  • Sweden: SVT2, 18 July 2010, 22:00, 21 + 23 July 2010.
  • Israel: Noga Communications Channel 8, 30 March 2010, 21:05
  • India: NDTV 24 x 7, 10 April 2010 – 15:00, 11 April 2010 – 13:00, 17 April 2010 –
    15:00, 18 April 2010, 13:00
  • Germany: ZDF 25 October 2011 0:20 Uhr, repeated on 30 October 2011 at 2:20 and 20:15 in zdf-kultur. ZDF Kultur: 30 October 2011 at 2:20 and 20:15, 28 February 2012 at 20:15 and 0:10, 29 February 2012 at 9:35, 25 September 2012 at 21:50, 26 September 12 at 1:30, 8 August 2015 at 20:15, 9 July 2015 at 0:30, Phoenix 21 January 2012 at 22:30
  • The Netherlands: Nederland 2, 5 January 2012 at 23:40

“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.
Former President
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.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco


“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,
Faculty Emeritus, Department of Psychology, Missouri State University


“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


“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.

Read director Rick Minnich’s Forgetting Dad blog.

Directors: Rick Minnich & Matt Sweetwood
Writers: Rick Minnich & Matt Sweetwood
Cinematography: Axel Schneppat
Sound: Rick Minnich & Matt Sweetwood
Editor: Matt Sweetwood
Mix: Raimund von Scheibner
Score: Ari Benjamin Meyers
Music: Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg
Producer: Hoferichter & Jacobs GmbH
Co-producer: ZDF – Das kleine Fernsehspiel
World Sales: Off the Fence
Distribution (DE): W-Film
Theatrical on Demand (N. America) Gathr at Home
Educational-Institutional Distribution (N. America) Films Media Group
Educational-Institutional Distribution (DE) eduflat