New doc from MSNBC's Richard Lui examines young Americans who care for disabled family members
© Getty Images

A TV news anchor is making his directorial debut with a new documentary that focuses on young people caring for disabled family members.

“Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation,” from MSNBC anchor Richard Lui, is poised for a Veterans Day world premiere on Wednesday at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. In a first due to the coronavirus pandemic, the storied institution is hosting a drive-in theater for audiences to watch the film.

The doc follows young people from around the country who live what Lui calls “double lives” caring for their family members with medical conditions. It’s a situation experienced by more than 1 million children and young adults, according to a report from the National Alliance for Caregiving.

ADVERTISEMENT

The idea for the documentary came to Lui roughly eight years ago, when his father, Stephen, received a life-changing diagnosis.

“It all started with my dad getting Alzheimer’s and flying back and forth from New York [back home] to San Francisco two or three times a month,” he says.

“That began the journey for awareness and understanding — for myself too, because I was going through my own journey, I still am — about what it means to care for somebody who is ill and has a disability.”

The Emmy Award-winning journalist says for the film he chose to follow “families of all different backgrounds to demonstrate how we’re all different, but we’re really the same.”

In addition to the Kennedy Center premiere — which will include remarks from former talk show host Montel Williams, former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and actor David Hyde Pierce — “Sky Blossom” will get free screenings in movie theaters across the country on Wednesday as part of a partnership with AMC Theaters and Universal Pictures.

ADVERTISEMENT

The project is also one of the few efforts that has drawn bipartisan support on Capitol Hill — both House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiYoung Turks founder on Democratic establishment: 'They lie nonstop' Hillicon Valley: Senate unanimously confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar | Scrutiny mounts on Microsoft's surveillance technology | Senators unveil bill to crack down on cyber criminals 'It's still a BFD': Democrats applaud ruling upholding ObamaCare MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell shoots down Manchin's voting compromise Environmental groups urge congressional leaders to leave climate provisions in infrastructure package Loeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run MORE (R-Ky.) serve as honorary co-chairs of the film, alongside other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

Lui, 53, contends, “This is an inspirational movie. It is joy, despite difficulty.”

“Because that’s what I live through with my father, and taking care of him,” says Lui, whose dad is now 86. “We still laugh a lot — there’s not always laughter — but we’re laughing harder and crying harder at the same time.”