Pihos: A Life in Five Movements is a feature length documentary about Pete
Pihos’ life and Melissa Pihos’ journey to rediscover it. Pete Pihos is a Hall
of Fame football player, WWII veteran, and first-generation Greek immigrant. He
is also in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. It is unclear if any of the other
memories still exist.
Melissa searches for
her father’s memories in the places of his past. The film is a visual
exploration documenting Melissa’s literal exploration of the places and spaces
from her father’s past. Melissa returns to Orlando, Florida where Pete’s father was brutally murdered while Pete was still a child. She returns to
Fort Wayne and Philadelphia where Pete played football. She returns to her own
childhood home and the homes from Pete’s previous homes.
Melissa intuit the man her father used to be. The style of the film is visually and lyrically expressive.
Instead of explicit explanation, life’s stories and life’s emotions weave in
and out of thoughts and memories and spaces. The film mimics the fleeting
nature of memory.
One of Melissa’s primary
ways of dealing with this insurmountable task is through her chosen art
form—dance. The tears, the anger, and the questions are too profound to tackle
in words so she expresses herself through her choreography. The film is anchored by recurring dance
sequences that introduce the chapters of Pete’s life and thus Melissa’s
journey. Through the abstracted lens of dance we then transition into the
tangible, concrete world of life.
Five dance sequences
will serve as five prologues to the five movements. These sequences will
involve one day of shooting. The dances will be shot on a stage with an
accompanying projection behind the dancers.
After each of these
prologues the “movement” is presented. Each movement will be the filmed
exploration space, time, and narrative of a significant period from Pete’s
The first movement
is the story of Pete’s father’s murder. Melissa travels to Orlando,
Florida in an attempt to grasp the impact that must have had on the tightly
knit Pihos family and on Pete, as a child.
The second movement
is Pete’s story in World War II. He served under General Patton and also took
part in the D-Day campaign. Pete's experience as a soldier in WWII initiated him into a fraternity of not only other veterans but a tight-knit group of professional athletes that also fought for their country.
The third movement
is Pete’s incredibly successful career in football, both collegiate and
professional. This movement will involve trips to Indiana University and
Philadelphia where he played for the Philadelphia Eagles. This movement will
include images from is locker rooms, his home fields, his stadiums, the places
he spent many of his greatest days. And, lastly we will explore the Hall of
Fame where is bust hangs, frozen in space and time. Both this movement and the
World War II movement will include considerable amounts of archive footage.
The fourth movement
in his life was as a father and a husband. Pete had four failed marriages and
never achieved the same success in his personal life that he did in his career.
However, his relationships with his children, specifically his daughter
Melissa, were incredibly strong.
And, it is at this
point that we move into the fifth and final movement: his fight with
Alzheimer’s. But, it is also about his daughter’s fight to reconcile the life
that her father led and his growing inability to remember it. This movement
blends the clinical and the procedural with the human and the universal.
In the end, the aim
is to create a film that captures the inexplicability, the power, and the
complexity of human relationships and memory through the touching story of a
daughter and her dad.