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Published on Apr 21, 2008
A father's suicide is no ordinary death in the family.
A feature by Oscar-nominated director Sally Heckel.
Please visit: www.unspeakablethefilm.com
On a bright spring morning in May, Dr. George Heckel climbed the stairs to the attic of his home in Rochester, New York, and killed himself. He had a thriving practice, a wife and three children, and a beautiful home. Why would a man who seemed to have it all take his life and leave his family devastated? How would they ever recover? How could he do something so unspeakable?
His daughter, Sally, who was seventeen at the time, grew up to become an independent filmmaker, but it was only decades after that life-changing event that she was able to turn her focus to what happened that day, and after - all the years in which she and her family struggled to understand feelings that remained mostly unspoken.
Heckel weaves home movies of what appears to be an idyllic post-war American childhood with dramatic silent recreations of a home life that reveal the darker side of that idyll. Acting as the film's narrator, as well as interviewer, Heckel gently coaxes her family and friends out of their silence. Through their voice-only recollections, reminiscences and reflections a fuller story gradually emerges, as the film circles around the fateful day.
Heckel crafts a layered portrait of a professional man who takes his own life, a father and daughter unable to communicate, and a family left behind whose members must pick up the pieces in their own individual ways. The film is at once lyrical and haunting, potent and soulful, mysterious and penetrating.