Sunset and the Mockingbird is a feature documentary that tells the love story of legendary jazz pianist Junior Mance and his manager and soulmate, Gloria Clayborne Mance.
As Junior loses his mind to dementia, Gloria is challenged to maintain her husband's personal and professional life without losing her own mind in the process.
Junior Mance has played with Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington and Charlie Parker and recorded over 100 albums. His career spans more than 70 years.
In 1997, Junior met Gloria Clayborne at a gig. They married exactly one year later and soon after she became his manager. For 15 years, she says, their life together was perfect.
Then in 2012, Junior had a stroke which led to the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia. Though his musical abilities were untouched, his gradual mental and physical decline has forced Gloria's role as manager, wife and soulmate to take on a whole new meaning.
Now she is tasked with winding down Junior’s legendary career as he loses his identity -- while still, somehow, maintaining her own.
Sunset and the Mockingbird is a celebration of Junior Mance, but also of the love between Gloria and Junior, and of Gloria’s strength in keeping everything going, including herself.
When shooting began two years ago, even as Junior’s mind was slowly slipping away, he still performed every week and his musical ability remained sharp. He has since incrementally declined, and the film bears witness to how Gloria has adapted to these changes, in ways both heartbreaking and humorous.
We see the hard decisions she must make, her coping mechanisms, and how she and Junior relate and survive the profound loss they are both experiencing in their own ways.
Gloria fights gloom and doom every step of the way, and so does this film. It is a rich and intimate picture of two people who go beyond simplistic themes and ideas.
Watch the trailer HERE