- Country: United States
- Initial release: April 24, 2022 (United States)
- Film Director: Rivkah Beth Medow and Jen Rainin
- Running Time: 17 Minutes
- IMDB Grade: 6.4
In the world of short documentaries, Holding Moses stands out as a deeply personal and emotionally powerful film. Directed by Rivkah Beth Medow and Jen Rainin, this 2022 documentary explores the journey of Broadway performer Randi Rader as she learns to navigate the challenges of raising her son Moses, who was born with a profound disability. The film sheds light on the experiences of caregivers and challenges prevailing societal narratives around disability. Through stunning visuals and raw storytelling, Holding Moses has garnered critical acclaim and has even been shortlisted for the Short Documentary Oscar.
The Birth of Holding Moses
The inception of Holding Moses came from a deeply personal place for director Rivkah Beth Medow. As she grappled with her own grief, Medow looked to her partner, Randi Rader, for guidance on navigating difficult emotions. Rader, a dancer by profession, shares her journey of coming to terms with her son’s disability and finding a new language of love and understanding. The filmmakers embarked on this project with a fierce commitment to authenticity and vulnerability, aiming to dispel the shame narrative surrounding caregiving.
A Glimpse into Randi Rader’s Experience
Randi Rader’s story is one of resilience and love. As Holding Moses unfolds, we witness the profound challenges she faces as a parent to a child with a severe disability. Moses, diagnosed with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, faces a future filled with uncertainties. Rader’s initial grief and confusion give way to a newfound language of connection and empathy, rooted in her background as a dancer. Through dance and physical expression, Rader finds a way to communicate with her son, forging a deep bond that transcends words.
Unveiling the Taboos of Caregiving
One of the striking aspects of Holding Moses is its unflinching portrayal of the taboos surrounding caregiving. Rader’s journey challenges societal expectations and norms, as she confronts her own ambivalence about parenthood and caregiving. Caregivers, especially those of children with disabilities, often feel invisible and struggle to share their complex emotions. Holding Moses offers a platform for caregivers to express their truths, providing a sense of relief and validation to a deeply marginalized community.
Redefining Disability Narratives
Holding Moses seeks to redefine how we perceive and understand disability. Rather than focusing solely on the challenges and traumas associated with disability, the film paints a holistic picture of Moses’s life within the context of a loving and deeply queer family. The documentary showcases the everyday moments of care and connection between Rader and Moses, emphasizing their shared experiences as a family. By humanizing disability and emphasizing the capacity for joy and pain, Holding Moses challenges prevailing narratives and invites viewers to deeply connect with the characters.
The Power of Visual Storytelling
The filmmakers behind Holding Moses employ a visually stunning approach to storytelling. The changing seasons serve as a metaphor for the passage of time, symbolizing the evolving emotional journey of Rader and her family. Each frame is meticulously crafted to evoke a sense of intimacy and connection, drawing viewers into Randi’s emotional experience. The use of slow-motion and visual metaphors, such as the scene of Randi dancing in the rain, adds a poetic and evocative layer to the storytelling, capturing the essence of Rader’s resilience and determination.
Critical Acclaim and Recognition
Since its release, Holding Moses has garnered critical acclaim and recognition within the film industry. The documentary won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Short at the Provincetown International Film Festival, qualifying it for consideration at the prestigious Academy Awards. It also received accolades at festivals such as Frameline, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, and Riverrun Film Festival. The warm reception from audiences and critics alike highlights the film’s ability to resonate with diverse audiences, transcending boundaries and creating meaningful conversations around disability and caregiving.
The Mission of Frankly Speaking Films
Holding Moses is a production of Frankly Speaking Films, a queer activist film production company founded by directors Rivkah Beth Medow and Jen Rainin. The company is dedicated to telling mesmerizing stories that center on queer women and non-binary people, aiming to amplify their voices and experiences. As Medow and Rainin emphasize, there is a significant lack of representation and visibility for these stories in mainstream media. Through their films, they aim to challenge this status quo and create a more inclusive and diverse narrative landscape.
The Impact of Holding Moses
Holding Moses has touched the hearts of audiences worldwide and sparked important conversations about disability and caregiving. The film serves as a catalyst for breaking down societal taboos and fostering empathy and understanding towards caregivers and individuals with disabilities. By giving voice to the often invisible experiences of caregivers, Holding Moses invites viewers to reconsider their preconceived notions about disability and embrace a more inclusive and compassionate perspective.
Future Projects and Commitment to Representation
Building on the success of Holding Moses, the filmmakers at Frankly Speaking Films have several new projects in the pipeline. One such project is the fiction feature film American Dog, which centers around a lesbian cop. This film, like their previous works, aims to center the experiences of queer women and non-binary individuals, bringing their stories to the forefront. Through their dedication to representation and storytelling, Frankly Speaking Films continues to challenge existing narratives and pave the way for a more inclusive and diverse film industry.