Best Bay Area Documentary, SFIFF 2007

"Smart, poignant, candid... It's a really extraordinary film."

- Graham Leggat, Executive Director
San Francisco Film Society
photo: Amanda comforts Gannet


THE KEY OF G tells the story of Gannet, a 22-year-old man with severe disabilities, as he prepares to move out of his mother's home and into a San Francisco apartment with three musicians and artists as primary caregivers.

Gannet (or "G," as his friends call him) was born with Mowat-Wilson syndrome, a genetic condition which results in a myriad of physical and developmental disabilities with symptoms resembling autism. G seldom makes eye contact and is unable to speak or use sign language so he communicates by pointing at icons in his "communication book." G has a strong will and a great sense of humor, but requires physical assistance around the clock. Under different circumstances, someone like G could easily wind up in an institution, but through his mother's force of will and Gannet's own charisma, things have worked out quite differently.

THE KEY OF G begins with G still living at home with his mother, Amy. G has just turned 22 and Amy has come to the realization that her son is ready to move out. G's condition prevents him from moving to a traditional group home, so Amy seeks an alternative family for him, one that will outlive her.

Avoiding the conventional care model of paid professionals expected to keep an emotional distance from their clients, Amy finds three young artists who will become not just paid caregivers and roommates for G, but true friends. Together they cobble together funding from an array of state programs, and attempt to create an independent and sustainable household.

Winner of the 2007 Golden Gate Award for Best Bay Area Documentary at the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival, THE KEY OF G follows this unique household over several years as the usual difficulties and joys of group living are heightened by G's unique condition. Through the difficulties, relationships deepen and G's world continues to expand.

In the end, THE KEY OF G is the caregivers' story as much as it is Gannet's. As they come to rely on him as a friend, they realize that they are building something better than just an independent life for G: They are building a community of interdependence that benefits them all. The film provides a model of how someone with serious disabilities can be integrated into the community and live a truly full life. Along the way, it challenges conventional notions about independence, empathy, and disability, and provides a glimpse into a kind of life seldom seen on television.



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