10 documentary films about aging

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    What does someone’s age tell you about a person? Does it measure their life experience? Can it teach us about how elderly people think about their life journeys? There is a rich history of documentary films that creatively explore the subject of growing older. This IDFA collection consists of ten documentary films on the theme of aging.

    From undercover agents to blues musicians

    In a quirky blend of spy flick and observational documentary, Oscar-nominated The Mole Agent shadows an undercover agent in an old folks’ home, hired to put rumors to rest. The final stages of life are gently portrayed in the moving and beautiful documentary films Saba and Somboon. The Song of Life explores the musical abilities and potential of elderly voices, while I Am the Blues tells the tales of senior blues musicians.

    From the festival screen to your home cinema

    The IDFA Collection consists of a large number of documentary films that explore the theme of growing older. Below you will find a selection of ten unique films that have screened at the festival in Amsterdam in recent years on the subject—now available online for free or for a small fee.

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    Alive Inside

    • Michael Rossato-Bennett
    • 2014

      A compelling film that shows how music can revive the emotions and memories of elderly people suffering from dementia, transforming their lives.

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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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        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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          The Mole Agent

          • Maite Alberdi
          • 2020

            In this blend of spy flick and observational documentary, 83-year-old Sergio goes undercover in an old folks’ home. Starting out as a wryly comical detective yarn, the film ultimately offers us an intimate look at affection and loneliness in old age.

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            Mundo

            • Ana Edwards
            • 2020

              Matilde is an elderly alpaca herder surrounded by the awe-inspiring natural scenery that was once sacred to the Aymara, the indigenous Chilean community to which she belongs. But today all that counts for Mathilde is the Word of God: the Bible.

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              The Olden Heralds

              • Luis Alejandro Yero
              • 2018

                An elderly couple leading a simple existence in the Cuban countryside watches an old TV set that’s thrusting a new political era into their lives.

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                Saba

                • Gregorio Graziosi, Thereza Menezes
                • 2006

                  A beautifully filmed but gloomy portrait of the day in the life of two Brazilian hundred-year-olds: their home, their bodies, and how they are waiting.

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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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                    The Song of Life

                    • Irene Langemann
                    • 2012

                      Composer Bernhard König works with the elderly to set their life stories to music, achieving some truly touching results.

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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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