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Synopsis

A distinguished poet, translator, critic and teacher, Edwin Honig wrote dozens of books and poems that attracted critical praise around the world. His seminal translations awakened English-speaking readers to previously overlooked literary giants, resulting in honorary knighthoods from the king of Spain and the president of Portugal.

In FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Alan Berliners paints a deeply personal portrait of his good friend, cousin and mentor as Honig journeys through the ravages of Alzheimers disease and memory loss. A stark reminder of the profound role memory plays in everyones life, this moving essay on the fragility of being human.

Shot over the course of five years, FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED documents Honigs condition with care and compassion, displaying the same raw honesty that resonates in his poetry, written during a life steeped in tragedy, love, loss, irony and literary daring.

In addition to numerous visits with Honig at home and compelling conversations with his estranged children, ex-wife, friends and former students, the film portrays his metamorphosis through archival imagery, family photos, home movies, poetry readings and Berliners search for creative visual metaphors to provide a better understanding of memory loss. The result is a vivid portrait of a wordsmith who, although hes lost his memory and command of language, retains an enduring playfulness, a charming sense of humor, a sublime musicality and the essential bearings of a deeply poetic soul.

FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED received its world premiere at the 2012 New York Film Festival and has been invited to festivals worldwide. It received the Grand Prize for Best Feature Documentary at IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) in 2012, where the jury praised Berliner for employing intelligence, inventiveness, and a poetic sensibility to create a film that uses the onset of Alzheimers to make a beautiful, moving, and artistic statement about the intersection of personal history and memory.

Hailed by the New York Times for his powerful, compelling and bittersweet work, New York filmmaker Alan Berliner is one of the most original voices in documentaries today. His previous credits include Wide Awake, which debuted on HBO in 2007, plus The Sweetest Sound (2001), Nobodys Business (1996), Intimate Stranger (1991) and The Family Album (1986). Berliners documentaries have been shown all over the world, receiving awards at many major international film festivals. All of his films are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

For more information on the documentary, visit: Facebook.com/hbodocs; and Twitter: @HBODocs #FirstCousin.

FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED is an HBO Documentary Films presentation; directed, produced and edited by Alan Berliner; co-produced by Shari Spiegel; cinematography by Ian Vollmer. For HBO: supervising producer, Lisa Heller; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.

First Cousin Once Removed

First Cousin Once Removed