Mimi and Dona

A mother and a daughter with an intellectual disability must part ways after living together for 64 years.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
56 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


A 92-year-old mother has cared 64 years for a daughter who has an intellectual disability. But now she must find her daughter a home in this powerful film that is “as unflinching as it is beautiful” (The New York Times).

Featured review

Heart-wrenching. The film is as unflinching as it is beautiful, chronicling difficult decision-making that comes to involve the whole extended family.
Neil Genzlinger
The New York Times


What happens when love runs out of time? For a 92-year-old mother, Mimi, who has cared 64 years for Dona, a daughter who has an intellectual disability, it means facing the inevitable—the likelihood that she will not outlive her daughter and the need to find her daughter a new home.

This poignant, heartbreaking and, at times, humorous documentary traces this process through the story of a quirky and deeply connected mother-daughter duo. The film spotlights the challenges of aging caregivers of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities—some 4.6 million Americans, 75% of whom live at home with family—and details the ripple effects of Dona's disability on three generations of a family.


A powerful and important film for students, practitioners, educators, and policymakers who are interested in older adults with IDD. Illustrates the lifelong implications of IDD on the entire family system.
Dr. Deborah Waldrop
University of Buffalo School of Social Work, Journal of Gerontological Social Work
Far more powerful than any textbook or lecture, this film provides an innovative and effective tool for educating professionals and students with interests in health, education and social services. I cannot recommend it enough.
Dr. Kathleen Roche
Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University
Beautiful and sad, joyous and painful. Above all, it represents an ever-present reality in the work that we do each and every day. In the autism and disabilities community it is a really hot issue.
Dr. Bennett L. Leventhal
Deputy Director, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, UC-San Francisco
Beautiful, heartfelt, and poignant. It shows the long-term impact of disability on families—and how disabilities touch so many families. I hope this film will inspire funding for additional housing alternatives and a decrease in the waiting lists.
Don Meyer
Founder, Sibling Support Network
Important. It had me in every emotion from tears to anger to frustration.
Dr. Lynn Koegel
Founder, Koegel Autism Center, UC-Santa Barbara
Incredibly powerful, touching, educational and thought-provoking. I know there are thousands of families just like this family. EVERYONE should see this film.
Abbie Weisberg
CEO/Executive Director, Keshet, Chicago
Poignant, heartfelt and thought-provoking. A call to action! Take the journey with Mimi and Dona. This film is not to be missed!
Joy Baum
Founding Director, The Institute For Educational Design, New York
Film on Dallas woman getting too old to care for disabled daughter reverberates.
Sarah Mervosh
Dallas Morning News
At once hopeful and harrowing, MIMI AND DONA looks at situations common in many families.
Cynthia Fuchs
Pop Matters

Awards and Screenings

PBS National Broadcast Premiere, Independent Lens
TV Critics' Pick, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Philadelphia Daily News
Recommended, Video Librarian
Best Documentary, Thin Line Film Festival
Best of Fest, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
Official Selection, ReelAbilities Film Festival, NY
Opening Night Film, ReelAbilities Film Festival, Houston
Official Selection, ReelAbilities Film Festival, Pittsburgh
Official Selection, ReelAbilities Film Festival, Boston
Official Selection, Legacy Film Festival on Aging
Official Selection, Heart of the Pines Film Festival
Official Selection, Macon Film Festival

Director Commentary

Mimi and Dona is a personal documentary about my aunt and grandmother. It is also a love story. I set out to make it when it appeared that my 92-year-old grandmother, Mimi, could no longer care for her daughter, my 64-year-old aunt Dona, who was diagnosed with an intellectual disability as a child and had lived at home her entire life.

In the months leading up to Dona’s move to a state-run institution in Texas, I filmed Mimi and Dona’s sweet and quirky life together. I also interviewed my mother and my brother, who voiced the ambivalence we were all feeling. Was this the right thing for Dona? Would Mimi fall apart without her?

Whenever I told people about Mimi and Dona's situation, they would chime in that they knew someone in a similar predicament—a cousin, a neighbor or a friend's sibling, some with developmental disabilities, others with mental illnesses, all struggling to find appropriate care and housing for a loved one. This was an untold story happening all around us, with caregivers like my grandmother facing agonizing decisions, often with little support or guidance.

Now that Mimi and Dona is finished, I believe we are on the cusp of a crisis with our aging population of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A recent article in the LA Jewish Journal states, "Those very parents who refused to go along with the advice of their own physicians to institutionalize their children in the 1950s now find themselves in their sunset years with little help on how to ensure a good future for their adult child with developmental disabilities." This situation plays out in heartbreaking fashion in Mimi and Dona, making the film a potentially powerful tool in the ongoing dialogue about this issue.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • Transcript

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Resources for Educators

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