2013, 74 minutes, color & b/w, U.S.A.
Audience Award: U.S. Documentary presented by Acura
As dementia continues to affect millions of elderly Americans, Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory reveals a remarkable, music-based breakthrough that has already transformed lives. Spearheaded by social worker Dan Cohen and captured on camera over the course of three years by filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett, we learn that songs from a patient’s past can awaken memories and emotions that have been asleep for years, sometimes decades. Within a moment of hearing “I Get Around” by the Beach Boys, Alzheimer’s patient Marylou jolts back to life, dancing around the living room and expressing a euphoria her husband hasn’t witnessed since her illness took effect. Countless instances in Alive Inside provide proof that music stimulates activity in dementia-affected parts of the brain and transforms the quality of life of those often left to languish in silence.
Through revealing conversations with renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks and musician Bobby McFerrin, as well as powerful firsthand experiments conducted by Cohen in nursing homes, this groundbreaking documentary demonstrates how connecting the elderly to the music they love not only combats memory loss but also supplements a broken health-care system often indifferent to interpersonal connections.
Director: Michael Rossato-Bennett
Screenwriter: Michael Rossato-Bennett
Executive Producers: The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, Projector Media, Eric J. Bertrand, Limore Shur, Ben Spivak
Producer: Michael Rossato-Bennett
Co-producers: Alexandra McDougald, Barry Cole, Jonathan Clasberry
Editors: Michael Rossato-Bennett, Mark Demolar, Manuel Tsingaris
Composer: Itaal Shur
Cinematographer: Shachar Langlev