Alzheimer's and dementia are a reality for an increasing and often unseen population. Though well intentioned, many nursing homes are not equipped to fully meet the needs of these residents. We are left with several questions without any real or comforting answers: How do I want to age? What can we do for our loved ones? Can we do better?
Alive Inside investigates these questions and the power music has to awaken deeply locked memories. The film follows Dan Cohen, a social worker, who decides on a whim to bring iPods to a nursing home. To his and the staff's surprise many residents suffering from memory loss seem to “awaken” when they are able to listen to music from their past. With great excitement, Dan turns to renowned neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, and we follow them both as we investigate the mysterious way music functions inside our brains and our lives.
Besides telling a moving story, it is our hope that this film will encourage widespread adoption of personalized music programs in nursing homes and outpatient therapy in homes. We hope that our film will inspire and educate the millions of people burdened by diseases that affect memory, and create a grassroots demand for this kind of low cost treatment, which could help not only patients but also caregivers across the globe. Like many films that concentrate on a simple story but echo into larger stories, we feel this film raises questions about how we as a society care for the elderly and afflicted.
Alive Inside focuses on one man's journey, but it raises many deep questions about what it means to still be Alive Inside. It questions when we stop being human, and what it takes to re-start a life that has faded away. It asks questions about how we see our elderly, and how we are going to treat an epidemic of these degenerative diseases.
Michael Rossato-Bennett, Director/Producer
Michael Rossato-Bennett produces documentary films designed to change the world. “My dream is make films that awaken souls!’ he says. Rossato-Bennett studied film at Temple University, lighting with family friend Vilmos Zigmond. In 1982 he began his documentary career with ‘Street Dance,’ a one-hour documentary on the emerging Break-Dance scene in Cincinnati, Ohio, funded by the Ohio Arts Council. In 1984 he co-wrote and directed Victory House, a low-budget award-winning feature that follows the fates of three young men returning to small-town Ohio after WWll. In 1989, he founded a photo studio in Cincinnati specializing in travel photography and shot for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Islands Magazine, Travel and Leisure, British Heritage among others. During this time he published books on Cincinnati and Mammoth Cave. In 1996 he came to New York where he helped his younger brother start Eyeballnyc and worked as an editor. In 2009 he returned to documentary roots by starting Ximotion Media, a company dedicated to producing films for non-profits and good causes. In 2009 he made documentaries for The Mozart Academy, The Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center and Music & Memory, and began filming, ‘Alive Inside, the story of Music and Memory.’ “Alive Inside’ is slated for release in early 2013. 6 months ago a clip from ‘Alive Inside’ went viral garnering almost 8 million views and changing into a possibility the film’s dream of getting elders in nursing homes the music they left behind. At present, Rossato-Bennett has 5 documentaries in various stages of production, constantly searching for new ideas that will change the world for the better, and help people become ‘Alive Inside’
Shachar Langlev, Director of Photography
Originally from Israel, Shachar Langlev has been working in New York’s film industry over the past several years as a director, producer and cinematographer, garnering recognition in his field. He received the Eastman Kodak Award for Excellence in Cinematography; he directed the hit music video for Damone, which aired on MTV, VH1, and was nominated at the Fuse Music Video Awards; he produced and shot Period Portrait, a short film that garnered awards from the National Board of Review and New York Women in Film and Television, and screened at festivals across the country. His latest short is touring the festivals and will next be seen in the Palm Springs FF.
Manuel Tsingaris, Editor
An editor for twenty years, some of Manuel Tsingaris’ recent projects include: The Storm that Swept Mexico, a documentary that aired on PBS in 2011, telling the story of the 1910 Mexican revolution; Writ Writer, a story about a jailhouse lawyer who brought about statewide change in the Texas penal system in the 1960s and; A Dream In Doubt, which follows a Sikh man’s journey to find peace and justice after his brother is killed shortly after 9/11. Manuel was also a contributing editor on the critically acclaimed mini documentary series, Life 360, a co-venture between ABC/Nightline and PBS.
Itaal Shur, Composer
Itaal Shur is best known for co-writing the massive Santana hit “Smooth” with Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas (which also earned him a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.) Shur was a founding member of the group Groove Collective, appearing on the group’s first two albums, 1993’s self-titled debut and 1996’s We the People, and co-penning the song “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” with Maxwell for his hit debut, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite. Shur issued his first solo albums under the alias Big Muff (named after a classic Electroharmonix guitar distortion pedal) — 1998’s Music From the Aural Exciter and 2000’s Aurally Exciting Remixes — a combination of funk, techno, and hip-hop which spawned the modest U.K. hit “My Funny Valentine.” Shur issued the first recording under his real name in 2001, Milk & Honey: 10 Hits to Bliss. In addition to writing and recording music, Shur has created his own artist development and production company, producing music for broadcasting and computer animation.
Limore Shur, eyeball, Motion Graphics
Limore Shur is the founder, Chief Creative Officer, and Big Papa Emeritus of Eyeball, a strategic and creative design agency. The story goes that after putting himself through Pratt studying illustration, Limore went looking for stimulating work in the field of motion graphics, only to realize it was 1993, and few people even knew what motion graphics meant, let alone how to produce them using reasonably-priced technology. Limore fixed that by founding Eyeball in the 2nd bedroom of his Brooklyn apartment, and has continued to lead the field ever since. Today he’s grown the firm from that 2nd bedroom into a 50+ employee bicoastal agency delivering graphic design, live action production, and brand strategy to marquee tech giants and diligent nonprofits alike.
The son of a modern dance choreographer and seminal composer of Jewish liturgy, Limore explodes stasis and boundary, constantly expanding in interest, skill, and desire.
Limore does everything overmuch. He is a motorcycle enthusiast, which means he not only watches but also races, collects, sponsors, directs, and promotes the world of sport motorcycles. He is an animal lover, which means he not only has numerous videos of his identical twin cats and a Samoyed puppy, but whole YouTube and Facebook fan pages devoted to them; he is even rumored to be training the months-old Samoyed to act in television commercials. When he was thirteen, he learned to do The Worm, so his cousin entered him in a breakdancing competition in Tel Aviv, which he won. Really.
In the course of a given day Limore alternates between director, designer, writer, strategist, negotiator, ethnographer, architect, therapist, heretic, coach, and witch doctor. He epitomizes the multifarious and above all thrives on people: his friends, his family, his colleagues, and each new person who comes his way embedded with an idea waiting to emerge.
Mark Demolar, Editor
Jonathan Clasberry, Associate Producer
At the heart of ALIVE INSIDE is the idea of a renewed sense of communal involvement. If you have been moved by Henry’s clip and this project, here are a few ways you can become involved.
TELL US YOUR STORY
We have been blown away by all of the amazing stories left here on our website, on YouTube, and all over the web. We’d love to hear more! Send us an e-mail. Over the next few weeks we’ll even feature a few here and on the Music & Memory website.
MUSIC & MEMORY
To support Dan's work please make a donation to the Music & Memory project. For information on other ways you can help, visit www.musicandmemory.org
JOIN THE MOVEMENT
In the next few months we will have a number of other exciting ways for you to get involved. Join our mailing list and help us change the lives of the millions of elders who deserve to be ALIVE INSIDE.
This will be our blog.