El centro en cuestión es un proyecto hasta ahora poco conocido, que llamó la atención de la cineasta Evan Briggs para elaborar un documental sobre la extraordinaria y productiva relación de convivencia entre niños y ancianos que existe en este lugar.
With neither past nor future in common, what do relationships that exist entirely in the present look like?
Present Perfect explores the very real experience of aging in America- both growing up, and growing old. It was filmed in a preschool housed completely within a retirement home, powerfully capturing the subtleties and complexities of the young children's interactions with the elderly residents, while challenging us to consider what we're doing- and what we’re not- to prepare future generations for what’s to come. What value does a person have to others throughout their life? Are we asking for the right contributions from each other? How do we measure and define a successful life? While this film doesn't shy away from confronting some difficult realities, it is ultimately a life-affirming story of hope and human connection.
MORE ABOUT THIS FILM
The inspiration for Present Perfect stemmed from a longstanding desire to explore the experience of aging in America. As a filmmaker, I’m drawn to simple, subtle stories that provide a framework for much bigger ideas, stories that promote reflection, revealing new layers of complexity that ultimately expand our way of thinking about a particular topic and even, perhaps, our entire world view. I love films that really make you think- and not just in the moment, but for days, weeks, even months following. After spending a few days observing the residents and kids at The Mount, I knew this was one of those stories.
Stepping into most any nursing home, it’s hard to ignore the sense of isolation one feels on behalf of the residents living there, and even harder to reconcile that with the fact that old age will inevitably come for us all. In our fast-paced, youth-obsessed culture, we don't want to be reminded of our own mortality. It’s easier to look away.
When I heard about the Mount and its Intergenerational Learning Center, I was struck by the simple perfection of the concept. I was further intrigued by the idea that with neither past nor future in common, the relationships between the children and the residents exist entirely in the present. Despite the difference in their years, their entire sense of time seems more closely aligned. As busy, frazzled, perpetually multi-tasking adults, we are always admonished to live ‘in the moment’. But what does that mean? And with the endless distractions provided by our smart phones and numerous other devices, how can we? I was curious to observe these two groups, occupying opposite ends of the life spectrum, to see firsthand what it meant for them to simply be present with each other.
Shooting this film and embedding myself in the nursing home environment also allowed me to see with new eyes just how generationally segregated we’ve become as a society. And getting to know so many of the amazing residents of the Mount really highlighted the tremendous loss this is- for us all. Over the course of the months I was filming at the Mount, I observed many incredible exchanges between residents and kids. Some were sweet, some awkward, some funny- all of them poignant and heartbreakingly real. One experience in particular occurred during a morning visit between the toddler classroom and several residents who had gathered to sing songs together. Everyone had just finished a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” when one of the residents began to share a memory he had of singing that very same song late at night on a bus full of soldiers while serving overseas during World War II.
The clarity with which this gentleman recalled this era of his life so many years ago was breathtaking- the memory seeming to appear before his eyes as he spoke. And though the kids were too young to understand his words, the fact that their presence provided a catalyst for his recollection just seemed to fit in a ‘circle of life’ kind of way. I’ve reflected on that moment many times since- it was beautiful and profound, and I was grateful to have been there to witness it. Those small, quiet moments are often the ones that contain the most meaning, and sadly are also the ones that most of us are too busy and distracted in our day-to-day lives to notice.
This is a film about the very young and the very old, yes. But it’s also about something bigger, something harder to pin down, but so essential in every way. In the words of Susan Bosak, founder of the Legacy Project, “It’s the experience of life in a multigenerational, interdependent, richly complex community that, more than anything else, teaches us how to be human.”
PROJECT STATUS AND GOALS
We are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to finish the film! It ends on July 2, 2015! Please visit us there and help spread the word!
Present Perfect was filmed at the Providence Mount Saint Vincent retirement home in West Seattle, WA, also home to to the Intergenerational Learning Center, over the course of the 2012-2013 school year. Up until now, this entire project has been a labor of love, funded entirely out of my own pocket. I invested in new camera and audio equipment so that I could function as a one-woman crew, I paid babysitters to watch my kids so that I could shoot three times a week for the entire school year, and I've spent countless hours applying for grants and pitching this film to as many people as possible. I've gladly taken all of this on because of how strongly I believe in the power of this story and its potential impact. And while I will continue to work uncompensated hours on this project, I do need funding to pay the professionals who can help me take it to the next level.
All of the feedback I have received from industry professionals as well as regular folks has been extremely positive! The project was even awarded a grant in 2013 by Artist Trust, an organization that supports Washington State artists. People are intrigued and want to see more. This is where the funds come in. I need to bring on an experienced documentary editor to provide a fresh perspective and help to shape the story from the amazing footage I have to work with. Finishing a film is not cheap! Editing, color correction, sound mix, music rights, publicity, outreach-- it adds up quickly. I have high hopes for this film and am committed to seeing it reach its full potential. With your help, it can happen!