Peanut Gallery is a feature length documentary film in post-production.
The Gandours were a family of four—mom, dad, and two daughters—from 1983 when Molly was born, until 1994 when her sister Aimee died of leukemia. Like so many other families in the wake of tragedy, the Gandours hobbled along as best they could, a four-legged animal on three legs. They didn't talk substantially about what had happened and how it felt. They did the best they knew how: lit candles, left flowers, went back to school, went back to work.
Sixteen years later, Molly is living in New York, working in film and television, and feeling a disturbing degree of disconnection from her past. Her childhood memories are few and hazy. She decides to go home for six weeks to try to get to the bottom of things. Her parents agree to go to family therapy with her for the duration of her visit. And they agree to let her film the whole thing. Peanut Gallery is a record of the Gandours' six week-long effort to excavate their family's past, to understand the roles they assumed in the face of Aimee's illness and in the wake of her death, and perhaps, to begin to escape from those roles.
It is an immensely personal, intimate film, revealing all the raw half-submerged passion of one Midwestern family's encounter with cancer. It does not shy from the harsh and the ugly, even and especially in its depiction of the filmmaker herself, whose unresolved anger leaks out as a quiet iciness towards her parents. With its dry, unblinking gaze, it shows us how imperfect we are, how flailing and awkward in our pain, and it lets us laugh without any derision.
Along with present-day footage of therapy sessions, family dinners, and scenes around the Gandour home, Peanut Gallery weaves together a wealth of documents from the past: family photos, home videos of Molly and Aimee as children, entries from both sisters' childhood journals, and recorded meetings with Aimee's doctors during her illness. From these sources, Gandour creates an eerie rhythm that brings herself and her family into vivid focus without ever telling the viewer what to think or feel. In a refreshingly matter-of-fact and unadorned way, Peanut Gallery shows us how much can go unsaid between our closest relatives—and how family dynamics can begin to shift when that silence finally breaks.