Project Humanities to host free screening of 'Raising Renee'
Project Humanities at Arizona State University, in partnership with the Emeritus College, is hosting a free screening of the award-winning film “Raising Renee” at the Burton Barr Central Library at 6 p.m., June 20.
“Raising Renee” follows the life of artist Beverly McIver for six years, beginning with her first solo art show in New York City and through the experience of being charged with caring for her mentally disabled older sister, Renee, after the death of her mother.
McIver, who held a tenure teaching position at ASU until 2007, reveals in the film that she was hesitant and overwhelmed at first by the idea of being Renee’s primary caregiver. At 47 years old she was settling into life and fame, now she was being asked to dedicate her life to her sister.
“It was a really tough time. I was living in a studio apartment in New York City that cost a fortune. There was no way that we could both live there, so I had to move back to Arizona. Up until then the only thing I had raised was cats,” she said.
The story examines how McIver worked with Renee to both empower and build a sense of independence. The ending proudly boasts Renee in an apartment of her very own. She relies on a neighbor for help with grocery shopping, but is overall responsible for her own day-to-day well-being.
“It has been a roller coaster ride that’s come full circle. I was able to give Renee the independence that my mother never would have been able to. Part of that is financial, but also because they were so codependent and my mother felt such guilt for giving birth to a mentally disabled child,” she said.
McIver hopes that the story will bring the discussion of mental disability to light. She says that with the rise in mental disorders, the chances of having to serve as a caregiver for a loved one also have increased.
Free and open to the public, the documentary will be followed by a group discussion led by Terri Hedgpeth of ASU Disability Services. Learn more at http://humanities.asu.edu.