Love stories come in all shapes and sizes, but you might be hard pressed to find a more compassionate one than Jeremiah Hayes’ film about Martin Duckworth, his third wife, Audrey, and their daughter Jacqueline. A distinguished NFB cameraman and filmmaker in his own right, Martin is on the home stretch now, retired and devoting himself to his beloved Audrey, who is (as the film begins) in the second stages of Alzheimer’s, as well as their grown daughter Jacqueline, who is autistic.
Martin gently, almost apologetically takes us through his life story, which has several touch-points with key moments in the social and political history of the past 80 years: he was born in the midst of the Great Depression, and his work as a cameraman would take him to hotspots during the Civil Rights movement, the hippie era, and to Vietnam. But for the most part the focus is directed towards the women in his life, and his children, but especially on his partner of the past four decades, photojournalist Audrey Schirmer. Gracefully, sensitively, the film shares their intensely intimate bond, even as Martin admits with shame how he struggled with Jacqueline’s unruly behaviour (autism wasn’t diagnosed back then), as she habitually walked the city streets at night, and the pressure it put on the marriage – as well as the circumstances that curtailed his previous relationships. Mostly we are impressed by his candor and the emotional wisdom he has accrued, much of it, we sense, a gift from Audrey.
Anyone who watches Dear Audrey will undoubtedly conclude that Hayes is a masterful filmmaker.
Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight
When beautiful people come into our lives you never want them to leave… They become your oxygen… Dear Audrey is a film that says all of that. A very personal diary caught on film with so many amazing lessons, stories, emotions with pain and celebration intertwined.
Darren Wiesner, Hollywood North Magazine
She caresses his back… his hair, his face. He smiles, and returns her caresses. Audrey Schirmer and Martin Duckworth share their on-screen love, the complicity that unites them in the final years of their life together… Duckworth’s life story reads like a feature movie script.
Sonia Bolduc, La Tribune
Martin Duckworth, Audrey Schirmer, Jacqueline Schirmer
Winner: People’s Choice Award, Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), 2021; Best Feature Documentary Award, Indy Film Fest, 2022
Katherine Buck, Annette Clarke, Glen Salzman, Pablo Salzman
Jeremiah Hayes, André Barro, Annette Clarke