At 38, Lori Benson, an aspiring filmmaker living in downtown Manhattan, was relishing life and motherhood with her one-year-old daughter Talula. Then a single phone call changed her life forever: it was her doctor; the diagnosis was breast cancer; and surgery was imperative.
Mixing verité footage, with home videos and family photographs, Dear Talula is an intimate autobiographical portrait of Lori's battle with breast cancer. The film follows Lori after she receives the news - the complicated and often confusing medical choices, the doctors' visits, surgeries, chemotherapy and search for alternative therapies, as well as the support and encouragement she receives from loved ones, and tender moments shared with Talula.
Though the film tackles emotional subject matter, it is not without lighthearted moments, as Lori displays an uncanny ability to find the humor in difficult situations. In the midst of her first chemotherapy treatment, she reads the laundry list of side effects she may experience - "chest pain, confusion, difficulty breathing, drowsiness, mouth sores, nausea, vomiting"- and jokes that dealing with this information would have been a lot easier to take if she were at home with a 'big drink.'
Lori recalls her initial reaction to her filmmaker husband's suggestion that they bring a camera to their first doctor's visit. Her immediate response was an emphatic "no!" But, "a day later," she said, "a friend showed up anyway...and began filming me as I headed out to my first appointment... After the dust settled a bit, I started to watch the footage and was stunned at what I saw. I saw myself: me with breast cancer. I saw my friends gather around me in support and love...me breastfeeding Talula for the last time...me walking through the surgery doors. I knew, in that moment, I had to make this film."
Dear Talula is a portrait of a woman whose grace and courage allow her to transform her breast cancer diagnosis into a journey of self discovery.
"A compelling portrait of a woman whose grace, good humor and courage allow her to transform her diagnosis into an opportunity to make a difference." - Susan Sawyers, The Huffington Post
"Richer and more emotionally charged than many feature-length films...Benson shares her story with unflinching courage and grace. 'Dear Talula' will move and inspire anyone familiar with the way life can confront us with unwelcome surprises — something from which none of us are immune."
- Lisa Schneider, Beliefnet.com