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article imageNeverbloomers: Examining what it means to be an adult Special

By Cate Kustanczy     Feb 25, 2012 in Entertainment
Montreal - Sharon Hyman has been described by the Montreal Gazette as “a one-woman film industry.” She produces, writes, directs, edits, and stars in her own movies. But despite this accomplishment, she doesn’t feel like an adult.
Her first feature film is Neverbloomers: The Search for Grownuphood, an examination of what it means to be a grown-up when you don’t feel like one. The documentary airs on the CBC Documentary channel this Monday (February 27th) at 8pm ET.
In contrast to the early bloomer or the late bloomer, the ‘neverbloomer’ is a phenomenon that’s been extensively examined in the last few years. Hyman’s movie is less interested in the societal repercussions of the neverbloomer phenomenon, and instead revolves around portraying Hyman’s insecurities & concerns, especially around making it as a filmmaker in an adult world. In true neverbloomer fashion, it took over a decade to complete. The movie traces Hyman's conversations with friends and relatives, revealing their thoughts on maturity and what it means to be an adult in the twenty-first century. Topics including marriage, children, academia, and career are all covered in a personal, conversational way. As Rabbi Moishe New tells her, being an adult is “the ability to fully integrate that which we know to be true, practically.”
That’s the headiest of definitions in the film, but there are plenty more that reflect the various experiences of Hyman’s circle while complementing her neuroses around aging, expectation, and accomplishment. More than anything, Neverbloomers is an examination of what it means to be an adult within a very personalized (and humorous) context. Hyman and I recently exchange emails about the film and about ideas around adulthood.
Why did you make Neverbloomers?
The genesis of the idea occurred after I fixed up my friend, the acclaimed writer Joel Yanofsky, with another friend, Cynthia. Almost overnight he was married, with a child and a mortgage, etc. So he said to me, "No one ever teaches you how to be a grownup!" And I replied, "We should make a movie about that."
I have been making what I coined “auto-documentaries” (turning the camera back on oneself to tell one’s own story) since I was a teen, using humor and candor to show a side of the female psyche rarely seen in the mainstream media. That is something which I am really committed to as an artist and Neverbloomers carries on that style and tradition.
Any trepidation about putting your dirty laundry into the public realm?
What makes you think it is dirty? :) I think what I speak about is pretty universal, the fears and anxieties that we all share. I actually find it liberating, having a sense of humor about what makes us all so very human.
Sharon Hyman
How difficult was it to get friends and relatives involved?
Not at all. Some said no outright, and others backed out after seeing their footage (as an ethical filmmaker, I always give people that option). But everyone else for the most part had a great time!
How much do you think the 'neverbloomer' thing is tied to economics and culture? Do you think it's more specific to certain communities (or genders, or generations) than others?
That is something I have given a lot of thought to. Sometimes I think this is the era of the neverbloomer.
For starters, so many of the traditional "external trappings" of adulthood have changed - people marrying later, if at all (and then ending up divorced), the percentage of women who never have children has doubled in the last few decades, there are few cradle-to-grave jobs anymore, those sorts of things.
And then there's the lifestyle changes. I don't know about you, but my dad was part of the Masonic temple and my parents had cocktail parties and belonged to the synagogue and actually went out of the house several nights a week! Our generation has TV and Facebook. Very isolating.
As a result of these seismic shifts in social and economic roles, the ways that we as a society used to delineate between childhood and adulthood no longer exist. Which leaves many of us wondering how adulthood can be now be defined, when the traditional markers have all but disappeared.
However, it is also possible that people always felt like neverbloomers and either did not realize it (before therapy and Oprah and, thank God, feminism came about) or never voiced their true feelings. My mother admits as much in the film, when I ask if she felt like a grownup - married with four kids by 27 - and she says, "I just felt overwhelmed!"
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