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by Lauren Wissot
Tell Me Who I Am, the Telluride-premiering feature from Academy Award-nominated (for Best Documentary Short Subject) director Ed Perkins, digs into the stranger-than-fiction saga of Alex Lewis, one half of an identical set of twins, who at the age of 18 lost his memory in a motorcycle accident. Upon awakening from a coma the only person Alex was able to recognize was his brother Marcus — the mirror image he would come to rely on to relearn pretty much everything, from the mundane (down to brushing his teeth) to his very sense of self.
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In turn, Marcus devotes himself wholeheartedly to the project of healing his sibling both physically and mentally. So much so that he makes the fateful decision to implant a false family narrative into his brother’s brain in an effort to shield him from a much darker truth. One in which Marcus himself, through Alex, is able to, if not completely erase from his own mind, suppress enough to go on to live his own satisfying life.
Unfortunately, as we all know, the road to **** is paved with good intentions. And to learn all about bringing this thorny story to the screen Filmmaker caught up with the British documentarian just prior to the film’s Netflix premiere earlier this month.
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Filmmaker: Did you have any reservations about transforming Alex Lewis’s book of the same name into a documentary? Honestly, this story doesn’t immediately strike me as one that would have cinematic material.
Perkins: I first heard about this extraordinary story about five years ago, and I was immediately intrigued by the themes offered up — brotherhood, love, forgiveness, the blurring of fact and fiction. And ultimately, I think, the things we do in order to survive. It was a story that played out almost as a psychological thriller...
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