Our Years Grow on Us Like the Rings of a Tree

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    The value of a life is not measured by how much of it remains. Growing old is like the slow ascent of a sapling unfurling towards the sky, coming to look down over years, decades. It is the precious accumulation of time in a body.

    We disconnect from the real, communal substance of life when we forsake our elders. It is a loss akin to letting libraries burn. We lose answers to questions that still need asking. Now, as tall trees fall everywhere, we ought to reflect on the worth of their lives, and hold them close in our hearts, if not in our arms.

    But our elders are not only bearers of wisdom; they are living, breathing beings, even in the autumn of their lives. This selection celebrates the lovers, carers, thinkers, talkers, creators, mentors, and masters of crafts who orient us in the woods of a bigger human story, when the young haven’t yet grown tall enough to see it.

    Available to watch online

    How to Smell a Rose: A Visit with Ricky Leacock in Normandy

    • Gina Leibrecht, Les Blank
    • 2014

      While preparing culinary classics in his kitchen in Normandy, Richard Leacock (1921-2011) explores the je ne sais quoi that makes his documentaries so fascinating.

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      I Am the Blues

      • Daniel Cross
      • 2015

        Despite their venerable ages, these last remaining blues devils are still working every day on the blues.

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        La Chana

        • Lucija Stojevic
        • 2016

          A portrait of flamenco queen “La Chana” as she takes to the stage for the first time in 23 years.

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          Ask the Sexpert

          • Vaishali Sinha
          • 2017

            An affectionate portrait of a 93-year-old Indian "sexpert," whose hugely popular newspaper column tackles taboo topics. 

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            Stream of Love

            • Agnes Sós
            • 2013

              Love and desire still fill the hearts and thoughts of elderly Hungarian speaking villagers in Transylvania, Romania. Their spirits are young, despite their years.

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              Iris

              • Albert Maysles
              • 2014

                A portrait by Albert Maysles of Iris Apfel, businesswoman and living fashion legend. She is a warmhearted eccentric full of one-liners, culture, and creativity.

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                Somboon

                • Krisda Tipchaimeta
                • 2014

                  Love is expressed not in grand gestures but in the highly detailed scenes of grandfather Somboon as he tends to his sick wife.

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                  Marta y Luis

                  • Yoav Shamir
                  • 2001

                    ‘God, give me a little more time’, sighs Marta Valdez-Rodriguez. Marta is sixty, is a little overweight, but still clearly shows the features of a woman who was once beautiful. In the 1960s she was a diva, as the singer of the immensely popular band Luis Valdez y su Conjunto. Along with her lifetime companion and bandleader Luis, she scored triumphs in the nightclubs of Cuba and - before the revolution - abroad. Today, they live in a modest house in Havana. The devoted couple (‘Marta is my queen, my everything, my music’) brings back memories of the golden era. To the subtle accompaniment of Luis Valdez’ music, we see how these stars, who have lapsed into oblivion, survive. Luis - who gives free music lessons to local children - with melancholy, Marta with pragmatism, and both with the love for each other and the music.

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                    These Memories Won't Last

                    • Stuart Campbell
                    • 2015

                      An interactive web animation in which a grandson relates in words and drawn images the eventful life of his grandfather, who is starting to suffer from dementia.

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                      Please Remember Me

                      • Qing Zhao
                      • 2015

                        An elderly couple in Shanghai gracefully struggles with age, illness and memory loss.

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                        La flor de la vida

                        • Adriana Loeff, Claudia Abend
                        • 2017

                          Octogenarians look back on their love lives. Eighty-three-year-old Aldo, a self-declared narcissist, soon becomes the focus of this film project.

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                          Hybrid

                          • Monteith McCollum
                          • 2000

                            For 100-year-old agricultural pioneer Milford Beeghly, grains of corn are just like people.

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                            A French Laundry

                            • Elisabeth Vogler
                            • 2014

                              A portrait of an 89-year old Frenchman who steadfastly continues to run his laundromat on the French Riviera until forced out by demolition crews.

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                              The Trip

                              • Bartosz Kruhlik
                              • 2010

                                A 13-year old girl takes a trip to the Polish countryside with her grandfather on a scooter, and gets some valuable lessons in life.

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