Watercolor by HILDA GORENSTEIN (aka Hilgos), part of a series she did after developing Alzheimer's disease.
Note to southeastern New England readers: This movie discussed below will be shown at 10 p.m., Friday, Nov. 7, on Rhode Island PBS.
I Remember Better When I Paint shows how the creative arts can enhance the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s. The film will be shown on public television stations nationwide during November, which is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in the U.S.
Narrated by Academy award-winning actress Olivia de Havilland, this international documentary includes visits to a variety of care facilities, as well as leading art museums in North America and Europe, to demonstrate how creative activities such as drawing, painting and museum visits can reawaken a sense of identity, dignity and engagement among those with severe memory impairment.
Leading doctors and neurologists explain how parts of the brain can be spared and discuss the life-enriching benefits of these new approaches. Among these experts are Dr. Robert Butler, M.D., founding director of the National Institutes on Aging (NIH) and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author; Dr. Samuel Gandy, M.D., of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine; Dr. Robert Green, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Robert Stern, M.D. professor of neurology at Boston University.
Inspiring personal stories are featured, including that of Rita Hayworth, as told by her daughter, Yasmin Aga Khan, to highlight the transformative impact of art and other creative therapies and how they are changing the way we look at Alzheimer’s.
The inspiration for the film came from the artist Hilgos, who had severe memory loss. When her daughter, Berna Huebner, asked: “Mom, do you want to paint?” She unexpectedly responded, “Yes, I remember better when I paint.” Art students helped her regain a capacity for exchange and communication through painting.
The movie was written and directed by Eric Ellena and Berna Huebner, and is a French Connection Films and Hilgos Foundation production. The program is a presentation of WTTW National Productions in Chicago, and is distributed nationally by American Public Television (APT).
I have been following the saga of this movie for years, even before I wrote about it in an article in a fine magazine then called Miller-McCune and now called Pacific Standard.
-- Robert Whitcomb