This summer has filled my life with such joy and fulfillment, as I spend my seventh year as part of the musical offerings at Bard Summerscape and the Bard Music Festival. Enjoying my favorite time of year, my birthday, rare and beautiful music, and so many loved ones gives me purpose and pleasure as I work and play among friends. As an actor and a musician, I consider myself extremely lucky. As a young woman training for the marathon, I can't help but feel grateful for my youth and all the art and connections life affords me. Will I always be so lucky?
For many, art and music and rewarding connections among friends are not only rare but even nonexistent. Not just non-musicians and people who have to seek these things outside of their regular day. I speak more of the elderly, in nursing homes, some with Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia. Sitting at my desk overlooking the mountains, I think of this now because of a movie I saw last week that I still can't stop pondering.
When my friend Shachar Langlev posted on Facebook that his film, Alive Inside, had won the 2014 Sundance Festival's Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary, he piqued my curiosity. Once I realized the topic centered around the profound effects of music on the elderly, I couldn't resist... I'm so glad I didn't.
This isn't a review. If you want a thorough review, including lots of photos and concepts from the film, Splash Magazine already has a great one, and BYOD has an interview with the director, Michael Rossato-Bennett. I will say, however, that I left the theatre feeling a profound sense of the connection we all share and looked more people in the eye on my way back to the Hudson Valley from Manhattan. I imagined how life might feel in my eighties, as a member of what many just see as a white-haired mass.
Although I hope to age gracefully, many suffer alone, in nursing homes, with no connections and medicated to the point of complete detachment. In Alive Inside, Dan Cohen discovers the life buried within them through music and fights to get that music to individuals within our nation's nursing home system. Whether or not you have any past or present experience with nursing homes, Alzheimer patients, or the elderly in general, this film provides an understanding of humanity and our need for a door to our memories and loved ones.
Having Alive Inside on my mind since I've seen it, I wanted to pass it along to everyone. With many screenings and film festivals, I highly recommend viewing it if possible. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer, its beautiful subjects, and the joy of knowing that someone fights for the health and happiness of our elders. If you'd like to learn more or help, check out Dan Cohen's page at Music and Memory, where you can even donate a new or old iPod to the cause.