Minnesota filmmaker uses late friend's footage to make documentary

Alia Tarraf said her friend, coworker and fellow filmmaker Allison Wilke Gryphon was a shining star. But, when Gryphon’s light went out, Tarraf decided to bring her own journey of pain and healing to the silver screen.

"She was very magical. She would walk into a room and she was that woman who could light up a room," Tarraf said.

Tarraf met Allison back in 2011 while they worked together at Walt Disney Studios - shortly after Allison was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"It's hard because we are super vulnerable in it. You see us at a pretty low point. We turn cameras on so you see us at our most vulnerable. So, it’s a little frightening," she said.

Allison was making a documentary about her battle with the deadly disease, which went into remission until it returned years later and took her life within a couple of months.

"It was so shocking because you never expect death, but she was only 44 and we didn't see it coming, and so it kind of blindsided us," Tarraf said.

Tarraf and Allison’s best friend found hundreds of hours of film Allison has shot of herself. So, they picked up a camera as they traveled to Ireland to scatter Allison’s ashes, which was one of her final wishes.

Afterward, they didn’t feel like they had really grieved, so they went back to the Emerald Isle with a psychologist and death midwife to process Allison’s passing.

"The first trip was pretty emotional, watching your friend’s ashes get scattered. The second time around, Dr. Stacy sat with us and dug into what was really happening underneath," Tarraf said.

Now a documentary about their experience titled "A Hidden Star" will have a screening at the Twin Cities Film Festival on Sunday.

Tarraf hopes the film teaches others to share their grief so they don’t have to surf the waves of life and death alone.

"I hope people take away a sense of hope and connection and connect with people you love because you never know when they are going to go."