Shocked by her mother’s ALS diagnosis, Elizabeth (the filmmaker) searches for ways to help her adjust. But in her struggle to come to terms with her mother’s unrelenting decline, Elizabeth senses a larger story that mirrors her private one. This Dewdrop World is a lyrical essay documentary that interweaves two unfolding stories – a dying mother, an unraveling planet -- illuminating the poetic resonance between the fleeting, dewdrop nature of a single life and a parallel, though largely unseen, story of planetary loss.
When Peg, the filmmaker’s mother, is diagnosed with a disease related to Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), she breathes a sigh of relief that it’s nonfatal only to confront a frightening acceleration of symptoms that suggest ALS. What does it mean to adjust to gradual or sudden change? The filmmaker’s husband, Robert, struggles with the same question in a different context. As his concern over our distressed planet ratchets up, he responds to the predicament by throwing himself at it; the engineer in him wants to design “solutions.” But his desire to launch a wind-turbine project collides with a culture of denial and his own personal despair over the futility of his efforts. Elizabeth’s narration forms the connective tissue and narrative through line, weaving together these two seemingly disparate stories and linking them to a larger cultural and planetary story. Peg and Robert are both grappling with what it means to respond to rapid, catastrophic change, and through Elizabeth’s voiced-over interior struggle with grief, the filmmaker’s hope is that the audience will feel an intimate connection between personal and planetary loss. Ultimately, This Dewdrop World points to the way loss can awaken us to the beauty in front of us and reanimate our engagement with it – even when we long for things to be different, and even when our efforts seem like a drop in the ocean.
Elizabeth Thompson produced and directed Blink (Emmy Award, ITVS funding, P.O.V. broadcast) and co-produced For Better or For Worse (Academy Award nomination, ITVS funding, P.O.V. broadcast). Her film Bookends was awarded the Jurors’ Choice Award from Black Maria Film Festival and Honorable Mention from the International Documentary Association. Her latest film, This Dewdrop World, has won numerous awards, including Best Documentary Director (Independent Film Quarterly Film Festival), Most Creative/Original (International Best Shorts Competition), Best Writer/Script (Accolades Competition), and Jurors’ Choice Award (GreenLens Film Festival).
Thompson’s work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Sundance Documentary Fund, The Creative Work Fund and Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media. Yaddo and MacDowell Colony have awarded her fellowships and artist residencies. As a Camerawoman, she has worked on a number of award-winning documentaries, including Hansel Mieth: Vagabond Photographer (Independent Lens), Rachel's Daughters (HBO), and Regret to Inform (P.O.V., Oscar and Emmy nominations). She twice has taught at Stanford's Graduate Program in Documentary Film. Thompson holds a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from Stanford University.