This article is part of Greenlight — The Latch’s commitment to the Australian film industry. For more content in this series, click here.
Van Genderen suffered from dementia, and didn’t understand the COVID lockdown restrictions that were preventing her from doing the weekly shop that she looked forward to so much.
To ease her discomfort and confusion, her son Jason van Genderen, along with his wife Megan and their children, recreated a Coles within their home.
Jason, a filmmaker whose production company was shut down at the time due to COVID restrictions, filmed the process, and audiences found the story heartwarming.
The video quickly went viral and had soon been viewed over nine million times, making its way onto Good Morning America and The Late Late Show with James Corden.
“It was for the family just so we had really beautiful memories that we could recall for Oma before she left us,” van Genderen told the Sydney Morning Herald, adding that the video quickly “blew up”.
“Before we knew it, we’d wake up with our phones full of shares, messages and millions of views. People were talking about what was going on in our little house in Forresters Beach on a global scale.”
The van Genderen family began to upload more content, sharing the highs and lows of caring for a loved one with dementia.
It was in February of 2021 that Jason van Genderen first announced the idea for Everybody’s Oma, a documentary feature that celebrates his late mother’s life. Hendrika passed away in March 2022 at the age of 89.
“There’s so many stories out there about how depressing dementia is, about its sadness, about how bleak dementia is,” van Genderen said in a video announcing the crowdfunding for the documentary. “We wanna turn that around. We want to create a story full of heart, of ideas of hope.”
Now, van Genderen’s dream is a reality, and Everybody’s Oma will celebrate its premiere at the 2022 Sydney Film Festival. It will also be in competition for the title of Best Australian Documentary, and will be awarded a $10,000 prize if it wins.
Watch the teaser trailer for Everybody’s Oma below:
The Sydney Film Festival runs from June 8 to 19.