By Emily Bender
Q&A by Stacey Kennelly
When Jacki and Jeff Lindstrom had their first child, Julia, they looked forward to a happy life for her. But at age 4, Julia was diagnosed with a rare and incurable genetic disease that causes severe behavioral problems and stimulates hormones that make her feel ravenously hungry. Julia’s diet must be controlled, the kitchen must be locked, and she must be prevented from running away for food so she does not choke or eat herself to death. Minding Julia, now 26, is a full-time job.
In Half Full, Emily Bender gives a deeply compassionate glimpse into the Lindstroms’ lives.
Why did this documentary need to be made?
Having a child with a severe disability puts a huge strain on a family. Here we see Jacki and Jeff desperately trying to keep their marriage intact and raise their other child, Jake, while keeping Julia from destroying herself or being institutionalized.
What will we learn by watching this film?
The audience hears Julia’s life story through her parents’ voices, and from Julia herself, despite her limited vocabulary. Julia is sincere and loving, and many people care deeply about her and want her in their lives, even though it’s difficult to be around her.
What did this film teach you?
I started out rooting for Julia to overcome her weight and behavior issues. After getting a better perspective, though, I now see the family’s true dilemma: Julia’s behavior isn’t going to get any easier to manage, and the Lindstroms can’t let that destroy them. Facing that has challenged the Lindstroms and, ultimately, brought out their deepest love and respect for each other.