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Professor and Former Student Collaborate on Film Depicting Heartfelt Conversation on Alzheimer’s

Dylan Pojar-Weatherly and Frank Thurmond
Dylan Pojar-Weatherly and Frank Thurmond

In a heartfelt exploration of love and loss, a UA Little Rock faculty member and alumnus have joined forces to create a compelling short film inspired by the professor’s own experience with his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s.

The film, “The Forms of Things Unknown,” was written by Frank Thurmond, a faculty member in the Department of English at UA Little Rock, and directed by Dylan Pojar-Weatherly, a former student of Thurmond’s who graduated from UA Little Rock in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication.

“For me, it was an opportunity to work with a student whose filmmaking I really admired and who I knew understood the subject matter,” Thurmond said. “At the same time, I’m gratified to give Dylan a chance to showcase more of his work. I hope this will propel his career forward. That is ultimately what it’s all about as a teacher. You want to inspire students to develop their craft and help them move forward in their career.”

The 10-minute film will debut during the Made in Arkansas Film Festival. It will be shown at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Ron Robinson Theatre. All-day passes for the film festival are $20.

“I am really proud of the piece,” Pojar-Weatherly said. “It’s a very genuine story, and it’s definitely different from other projects I’ve worked on before.”

The collaboration between Thurmond and Pojar-Weatherly started during the spring 2022 semester. Pojar-Weatherly, then a senior at UA Little Rock, was taking Thurmond’s screenwriting class when he asked his professor if he would share some of his own screenplays with the class.

“It meant a lot to me that Dylan was curious about my work,” Thurmond said. “I brought in a script for a short film about my experience with my late mother, who had Alzheimer’s. The reason I came back to Arkansas in 2009 was to care for her.”

Pojar-Weatherly felt an immediate connection with Thurmond’s script. At the time, he was working on his capstone project, a short film called “The Meadows” that highlights a daughter struggling to care for her father who has Alzheimer’s. This film also premiered during the Made in Arkansas Film Festival in 2023.

“I remember reading the script for the first time, and I remember connecting with the script right away,” Pojar-Weatherly said. “I was honored that Mr. Thurmond asked me to be a part of the project. Alzheimer’s is something I am familiar with through my grandparents.”

The film, which was filmed in the UA Little Rock School of Nursing’s Center for Simulation Innovation, delves into the emotional journey of Thurmond’s final conversation with his mother, capturing the poignant moments of connection and reflection amidst the shadows of the terrible disease.

“The way that Dylan shot the film and the way the actors brought the story to life captures my final moments with my mother on her deathbed,” Thurmond said. “It’s going to be an overwhelmingly emotional experience for me. The theme of it is so universal. So many people have some connection with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and caregiving. It’s something that many audience members will relate to.”