When faced with an insurmountable mountain to climb, it’s natural to feel alone. When you realize that there are hundreds of others trying to climb that same mountain as you. Thiago Dadalt documents the lifelong expedition of actress Tamara Mark in his feature film, Beyond.
As a young adult, Tamara Mark made a name for herself as an aspiring Broadway dancer and Hollywood actor. She appeared in such hits as Cheers, Nash Bridges, and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. After getting married, Tamara gave birth to two autistic sons, Ian and Harry. As the pressure mounted, Tamara’s marriage ended in divorce, leaving her alone to raise her two sons.
The first half of Beyond gets right into the heart of the issue. Tamara’s role as the mother is a full-time, 24/7 job. Ian and Harry are non-speaking autistic adults. Their primarily formed of communication is a cardboard chart with a keyboard layout printed across its face. Ian wants to live as an independent adult, while Harry is frustrated about the pain caused by three cavities. Unfortunately, his insurance won’t cover the sedation dentistry needed to safely fill the cavities before an infection sets in.
“…spotlights the challenges Tamara faces with her adult autistic sons. Most government programs ended when Ian and Harry turned twenty-one.”
Beyond spotlights the challenges Tamara faces with her adult autistic sons. Most government programs ended when Ian and Harry turned twenty-one. Tamara is now left alone and caring for Ian and Harry, leaving her time for little else. Naturally, safety is the first concern. Because of Harry’s intense pain and anxiety, he began pulling out his hair and biting the skin off his hand to cope. Unfortunately, help is either unavailable or unaffordable. Yes, there are homes that provide a safe and specialized environment for autistic adults, but the waiting list is long, and the fees fall between $90 to $140K per year.
In the third act of Beyond, Tamara finds herself at her emotional limit and needs time away from her boys. She points out that the suicide rate for parents and caregivers of autistic children is high. Realizing that what parents want, at a base level, is merely help and support. Feeling alone and hopeless is what drives these loving parents to the point of suicide.
Knowing what she’s gone through and that there are thousands of other families feeling the same way, Tamara found her true purpose and passion in being that source of help for others that goes BEYOND love. Beyond ends with Tamara making progress in forming an organization that will build a better and safer community for autistic adults.
Director Thiago Dadalt is masterful in getting to the heart of Tamara Mark’s cause. He never overplays his emotional hand while exposing us to how serious this cause is. Documentaries like Beyond are the epitome of films that bring awareness to an issue that is hidden yet knows no boundaries or class. I dare you to watch Beyond and not see Tamara Mark as a tireless hero to her children and to her cause. Your heart will break for her and her children and hopefully take action. Not to sound bleak, but I don’t think the government is coming to the rescue anytime soon.
Beyond attempts to not only find hope in a hopeless situation but in a roundabout way encourages us to be a beacon of hope as well.
For screening information, visit the Beyond official website.