NOT A REVIEW: Desmond is Not Here Anymore

What happens when someone you love can't remember the trauma you can't forget?

Shane Paul Neil
2 min readOct 1, 2021
Image courtesy

I received a DM on Twitter that read, "Shane, not a review request, but I had to share our Black film about healing with you. Desmond's Not Here Anymore just opened the HollyShorts film festival at the Chinese Theatre this past weekend. It stars Emmy winner S. Epatha Merkerson & Yolonda Ross."

The message was from Lindiwe Suttle Müller-Westernhagen the film’s writer.

Described as "…a gothic family drama short film about the relational interplay between a devoted, resilient daughter, Abigail, determined to stay strong for her mother, Selma, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer's", Desmond's Not Here Anymore is an exploration the ripple effects of trauma.

In the short film, Abigail (played by Yolanda Ross ) confronts her childhood trauma while moving her Alzheimers afflicted mother, Selma (played by S. Epatha Merkerson), out of her home.

From the outset, Abigail and Selma's relationship feels familiar and genuine. Abigail's love for her mother is as deep as it is complicated.

Director Mmabatho Montsho does a fantastic job with the film's visual storytelling with a style that is both vibrant and intimate.

At its core, Desmond Isn't Here Anymore is a film about transition — the often inevitable transition from child to caretaker, the transition from provider to beneficiary, and the struggle to transition away from the traumas that define us.

As the creators of the film explain, "In the end, Desmond's Not Here Anymore is about healing."



Shane Paul Neil

Writer (duh) and photographer. Bylines @levelmag @complex @ebony @huffpo