The Rest I Make Up

A film by Michelle Memran

US | 2018 | 79 minutes | Color | DVD | English | Order No. 181226

A portrait of visionary Cuban-American dramatist Maria Irene Fornes and the story of her unexpected collaboration with filmmaker Michelle Memran.


Maria Irene Fornes was one of America's greatest playwrights and most influential teachers, but many know her only as the ex-lover of writer and social critic Susan Sontag. The visionary Cuban-American dramatist constructed astonishing worlds onstage, writing over 40 plays and winning nine Obie Awards. At the vanguard of the nascent Off-Off Broadway experimental theater movement in NYC, Fornes is often referred to as American theater's "Mother Avant-Garde." When she gradually stops writing due to dementia, an unexpected friendship with filmmaker Michelle Memran reignites her spontaneous creative spirit and triggers a decade-long collaboration that picks up where the pen left off.

The duo travels from New York to Havana, Miami to Seattle, exploring the playwright's remembered past and their shared present. Theater luminaries such as Edward Albee, Ellen Stewart, Lanford Wilson, and others weigh in on Fornes's important contributions. What began as an accidental collaboration becomes a story of love, creativity, and connection that persists even in the face of forgetting.


One of "The Best Movies of 2018"

Richard Brody The New Yorker

"A lyrical and lovingly made documentary."

The New York Times

"Intimate and exhilarating...Fornes exerts a hypnotic force of stardom, while her offhanded yet urgent remarks resound with life-tested literary authority."

The New Yorker

"A tender exploration of Fornes’ life and the meaning of memory."

Conde Nast’s them

"Fabulous. The Rest I Make Up is as inspiring as its subject."

San Francisco Bay Times

"The film’s overarching theme of life’s ephemeral nature paired with the deep friendship and vital creativity that percolates between this young writer-turned-filmmaker and the iconic playwright offer a much-needed and refreshingly loving take on aging and illness."

Artburst Miami

"A touching portrait of an unheralded artist."

Screen Slate

"Memran’s documentary is as untraditional and unpredictable as the woman herself. In it, Memran manages to take us through Irene’s extraordinary life, while capturing the essence of what made it extraordinary - all while transitioning into an impressive artist in her own right."

NBC News Latino

"An enduring portrait of an artist who defied expectations right until the end."


"At turns, funny, smart, sad, and poetic, The Rest I Make Up examines the gifts of collaboration and creativity, as well as what it means to be an artist and a friend."

Bomb Magazine

"An exquisite documentary portrait. While the movie doesn’t flinch from the sadness of Fornes’s decline…it nonetheless leaves the viewer feeling exhilarated, bringing us into the creative aura of a lively, unassailable imagination."

Public Books

"A story of spontaneity, creativity, genius and madness. It showcases the life, inspiration and virtuosity of Fornes."

Miami Herald


  • AARP Silver Image Award, Reeling: Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival
  • Audience Award for Best Documentary, Frameline Film Festival
  • Best Documentary Feature, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
  • Jury Award for Best Documentary and Runner-Up Audience Award for Best Documentary, OUTshine Film Festival
  • Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature, Reeling: Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival
  • Special Mention, Queer Porto 4 - International Queer Film Festival
  • Boston Latino International Film Festival
  • Chicago Filmmakers
  • Coral Gables Art Cinema
  • DCTV
  • Eau Queer Film Festival
  • Female Eye Film Festival
  • Festival International de Films De Femmes de Creteil
  • FilmBar Phoenix
  • Freep Film Festival
  • Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
  • Havana Film Festival
  • Heartland International Film Festival
  • Houston Cinema Arts Festival
  • Inside Out Toronto LGBT Festival
  • Lesbian Looks Series
  • Mardi Gras Film Festival
  • Miami Film Festival
  • MoMA Doc Fortnight
  • NW Film Center
  • Pink Panorama Film Fest
  • ReFrame Film Fest
  • The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
  • Tough Broads Film Festival
  • Women Texas Film Festival


Michelle Memran

Michelle Memran is a filmmaker and journalist. For nearly twenty years she has worked as a reporter and researcher in New York City and has written for numerous publications. Her award-winning documentary feature debut, The Rest I Make Up, had its world premiere at MoMA's Doc Fortnight in 2018, and returned for a sold-out week-long run at MoMA later that year. It was named one of "The Best Movies of 2018" by Richard Brody in The New Yorker and is currently screening worldwide. (04/19)


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