PRODUCED, Directed and edited
by Alan Berliner
FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED, Alan Berliner’s deeply personal portrait of Edwin Honig, his “good friend, cousin and mentor,” is a first-hand look at Honig’s journey through the ravages of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. It is an unflinching essay on the fragility of being human and a stark reminder of the profound role that memory plays in all of our lives.
Shot over the course of five years, FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED artfully documents Honig’s condition with deep compassion, portraying his life with the same raw honesty that resonates in his poetry, written amidst a lifetime steeped in tragedy, love, loss, irony and literary daring. In addition to numerous visits with Honig at his home and emotionally compelling conversations with his estranged children, ex-wife, friends and former students, the film chronicles Honig’s metamorphosis with archival imagery, family photos, home movies, poetry readings and Berliner's ever-playful search for visual metaphors that help provide a better understanding of memory loss. The result is a vivid portrait of a wordsmith who, although he’s lost his memory and command of language, still retains an enduring sense of play, a charming sense of humor, a sublime musicality and the essential bearings of a deeply poetic soul.
Edwin Honig – poet, translator, critic, and teacher -- wrote dozens of critically acclaimed books that have been published all over the world. His seminal translations of Federico García Lorca, Calderón de la Barca, and Fernando Pessoa awakened English speaking readers to the work of these literary giants, and he received honorary “knighthoods” from both the King of Spain and the President of Portugal. Honig died in 2011 at the age of 91.