By Laura Stovel
If you ask a group of seniors from different countries to make films about healthy aging the themes will be as diverse as the seniors themselves. Romance, murder, self-realization and joy were all depicted in a collection of 12 short films, written, produced and acted by seniors aged 65 and older that was featured at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre (RPAC) earlier this month.
The films were part of a European Union (EU)-funded project on aging that involved film schools and organizations from the UK, Portugal, Slovenia and Italy. The films dealt with topics as diverse as a celebrated soccer player and coach passing his jersey on to a promising young player (Italy); a stylized film about choosing how to die – and thus, how to live (UK); and a street vendor with a crush on a lady who comes to his stall (Slovenia).
The project, CINAGE, supports lifelong learning and healthy, active aging, explained British film producer and instructor Jennifer Granville who brought the film collection to Revelstoke. Granville has been to Revelstoke several times while visiting her daughter, RPAC Theatre Manager. Urged by friends and family to bring the film series to Revelstoke, Granville and Manley arranged a screening and question-and-answer session that were well received by the audience.
Granville is a playwright, actor and film producer who teaches at the Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett University in Leeds in Yorkshire, England. Until recently the university benefited from a two-year Foundation Program where non-traditional students could take university courses. After this was cancelled, Granville and her colleagues sought other funding sources that could support lifelong learning for older students. The EU Lifelong Learning Programme grant provided the opportunity.
The most successful part of the project in all four countries was the intergenerational component, Granville said. “In the English production, we had student crews come out.” An 87-year-old student wrote and acted in one film and directed another. “She was amazing. She was there at 6:00 every morning. She was on set and ready to go. Those kids from the film school, they were just blown away by the commitment, by the energy, by what the older people brought to it. My students said at the end of it, ‘This has been the best experience at film school that we’ve had, working with these older people.’”
One outcome of the project is a course manual that is available free of charge on the project’s website. Granville encourages community groups to use film as a way of engaging seniors. With today’s technologies, films can be produced with equipment as simple as an iphone and edited “on anybody’s Mac” computer. Of course, “it’s more fun to do it with a camera.”
Revelstoke has a history of interesting intergenerational projects, many of them funded by the federal government’s New Horizons Program for Seniors. Could a film project be one of them?