Bringing Alzheimer’s to light


Justin Boswick, a 17-year-old rising senior at Shawnee High School, uses filmmaking as his medium to make positive change.

Boswick’s grandmother, Dorothy Landis, suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that causes problems with memory and concentration.

“When I was younger, my mom sat me down and talked to me about moving my grandmother to a nursing home,” Boswick said. “My grandmother was a woman who traveled around the world, raised seven children, was a social worker and now cannot remember any of these experiences.”

According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, one in nine Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease, and one-third of Americans over the age of 85 are affected by this disease.

Boswick wanted to change any preconceived notions some might have about the disease by creating a short documentary on his grandmother.

“Creating awareness is great, but I wanted to give people a peek at what it’s really like and how a family that is affected by it handles it,” Boswick said.

The documentary delves into the harsh realities of Alzheimer’s disease. Boswick titled his work, “The Word Search.”

He interweaved three interviews between his mom, his grandmother and Krista McKay, the director of programs and services at the Alzheimer’s Association. He believed it would be beneficial to include McKay to also give viewers an idea of who to look toward for help if ever faced with a similar scenario.

The documentary was originally just a class project for Brian Pistone’s TV Tech Three class.

However, it really captured Boswick emotionally, and he wanted to make sure it had that same effect on viewers, so he spent some extra time with it.

He believes evoking emotion in the audience is vital to the success of any form of art.

“Whenever you’re creating a work of art, making something just to make it is not worth it,” Boswick said. “I want to make something that makes my audience sit down and either laugh or cry, or has some sort of lasting impact on people.”

Drawing from a personal experience has its benefits as far as drawing raw emotion, but Boswick admitted it also has its downfalls.

“There was times I had to step back and remind myself that this was work,” Boswick said. “It’s tough to continuously watch this footage, seeing family members crying at times, when I am editing it all.”

The documentary has received quite a response from viewers. In fact, Boswick was recently informed it was chosen by the Princeton Student Film Festival out of 200 films that were sent in from around the world.

“I actually got the email while I was on set for another movie and I started freaking out,” Boswick said. “I was really honored. Being recognized for my work is gratifying.”

Although Boswick has one year of high school education left, he knows he wants to pursue filmmaking as part of his future.

He plans to begin applying to film schools in the fall.

“Some people view the whole process of filmmaking as tedious, but I think it is so much fun to plan, shoot, edit and see people’s reactions when you show them the final product,” Boswick said.

To view the documentary that will be airing at the Princeton Student Film Festival on July 23, visit