The idea: People with dementia who are enabled to engage in creative activity, enjoy doing so and can obtain surprising and positive results. Berna's documentary, I Remember Better When I Paint, explains.
My name is Berna Huebner and I'd like to tell you about a film by myself and Eric Ellena, called I Remember Better When I Paint.
No drugs yet exist that can effectively prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease. Our documentary asks: What recourse exists for the millions of people who suffer from this terrible degenerative disease, which causes progressive decline of cognitive skills, memory loss and withdrawal?
It is increasingly evident that initiatives that help people with Alzheimer’s to get involved in art and other creative activity can obtain surprising results. Scientists have discovered that Alzheimer’s disease normally spares, to a very large extent, the parts of the brain related to emotions, creativity and creative expression. Neurologists—including several who are interviewed in the documentary—recognize the benefits of nonpharmacological therapies. Nonetheless, only a very small percentage of nursing homes and care facilities are yet making effective use of these approaches, and the film urges that an extensive effort now be made to share these positive approaches and hopeful possibilities.
I Remember Better When I Paint, described by author and journalist Richard Reeves as "powerful beyond words," shows how the creative arts can change the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s. Filming was done in many parts of North America and Europe showing Alzheimer’s patients focusing and reconnecting as they paint at their homes and care facilities, visit the Louvre in Paris, the Art Institute in Chicago and the Phillips Collection in Washington DC, and even enjoy the Big Apple Circus in New York.
The film is narrated by Olivia de Havilland and features a moving interview with Yasmin Aga Kahn, whose mother Rita Hayworth found comfort in painting as an individual with early onset Alzheimer’s. International experts (as well as those with the disease, family members and caregivers of all ages) appear in the film. Among those experts are Dr. Butler, founding director of the National Institute on Aging (NIH) and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and Dr. Samuel E. Gandy, Mount Sinai Director of Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
The film is a joint production of French Connection Films and the Hilgos Foundation with the support of the French film board and private donors. It was recently shown on the flagship PBS station in New York, Channel Thirteen. A film trailer is shown below.