Documentary Film Moves Audiences at Ramapo
By Sophia Freire
Staff Writer, The Ramapo News
A publication by the students for the Ramapo College community
Thursday, October 26, 2000, XXXVII No.5
Losing Tom, a documentary about a family's struggle with an alcoholic loved one, dubuted Tuesday in the Sharp Theatre. This remarkably moving film exhibits pure talent and raw emotion.
Ramapo's Assistant Web Administrator, Trish Williams is the creator. Originally, the film was the thesis of her death and dying class, but it soon took on a life of its own.
Through interviews with Williams' mother, sister and close family friends, she traces Tom's alcoholism and the affect it had on him and his loved ones.
It is easy and heart-braking for the audience to see Tom's fall from grace.
It was very powerful and intense. No one in my family is alcoholic, but I felt and connected with it, said student Christie Cianciosi.
Through the Williams family, a history of alcoholism is traced back through four generations, shedding light on the events that led to Toms affliction.
At 11-years-old, Tom lost his father to suicide, thus marrring the childs memory forever. The family seldom spoke of Toms father, and whatever remaining memories the boy had, slowly diminished.
As years passed, Toms state declined, all the while seeking comfort in a deep-seated denial.
I believe that his father's death was a big issue with my father's drinking, said Williams.
Williams and her two sisters can measure their fathers decline by the stages of their lives. As the girls attended grade school, they felt their father was very attentive, but in high school, the girls realized Tom was less involved. This apathy grew worse when the sisters reached adulthood. By then he was nearly gone.
His alcoholism had such a choke hold over him that he was deemed hopeless by rehabilitation programs. Tom ended up being divorced by his wife, homeless, and then a broken shell of a man whose mind was destroyed by alcohol.
He lived out the rest of his days as a body without a mind. He lacked all the virtues and vices that made him an individual. He was just an old man without any memory or knowledge of his life. That is where the film ends and leaves the audience breathless and deep in thought.
Creating the film has helped Williams put away some of her own demons.
Making the film did bring a certain closure to my life, said Williams.
Williams is glad that the film can move so many people.
It turned out to be more powerful than I thought, said Williams, I am happy to see that people can connect with it because alcoholism is so prevalent in our society.
Donna Kauder, director of international cooperative education said, I am very proud of her. Her film works on so many different levels. Hopefully she will display it more, so people can learn from her and her familys courage.
For information about the film and how to deal with alcoholism, visit Williams website at http://www.losingtom.org.
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