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.