Aging

Mind Zone, 2015

"Every object in the room will outlive him. The aspirin bottle is two hundred miles away and his robe is in another time zone."

—Mike Kuchar

Part bio, part memoir, Mom’s Move is an intergenerational film about mothers and daughters, women and photography, remembering and forgetting, and the tension between women’s private and public selves.

Rhoda Mogul, housewife and mother of six, was a lifelong avid amateur photographer.  Her creative drive – though confined to the home – had a major influence on my public life as an artist and filmmaker.

Mother, 2007

A Timeless subject that is not immune from Time.

In My Dinner With Weegee Donigan Cumming weaves together two life stories. The central figure, a man in his seventies named Marty, remembers his experiences in New York as a young Catholic labour organizer and peace activist, his friendships with David Dellinger, the Berrigan brothers, Bayard Rustin, Weegee, and James Agee. This mixture of first-hand knowledge and gossip brightens Marty’s dark passage—he is old, sick, depressed, and alcoholic.

My mother's life and death were both extraordinarily epic. A painter who art therapized herself out of depression. Her resiliency could have rewarded her with a Badge of Courage; alchemizing trauma into art, activism and humor. Modeling these gifts for me, I look at our lives which could have been charted and copied page for page, letter by letter, and I recognize that I have imitated her style, not missing a beat.

— Linda Montano

Nang has lived outside the box. Born in a Trinidadian village in 1934, she grew up poor, illegitimate, mixed-race and female, but she survived by defying convention. She left the first of five husbands when he cheated on her. With no formal training, she danced with choreographer Geoffrey Holder, who later won Tony Awards for The Wiz. In her twenties, she went to work in the Orinoco delta in Venezuela, and saved enough to buy a house.

Nine Fish, 1996

From childhood memories to recurring nightmares, Nine Fish attacks and illuminates the indecision and confusion surrounding euthanasia and care of the elderly in the United States. In this deeply spiritual and personal video, director Kip Fulbeck chronicles his Cantonese grandmother's physical decline and its continuing impact on his family. The shifting complexities of personal identity, family communication, and cultural assimilation are explored through nine semi-fictional stories.

Invoking a biblical story of life coming from dry bones, Condit constructs an experimental narrative about an older woman’s confrontation with her own mortality after the death of her mother. The bone represents the promise of youth and hope—a promise jealously coveted by the young, but needed more by those grown old. Inverting cultural values, Condit represents feminine youth as a mannequin, and seeks humanity in the form of the older woman, who is reborn by overcoming her fear of death.

Be careful when you go out into the surf in a skimpy thong... the current can be treacherous and turbulent as is the human heart!

There was plenty of fruit growing in Eden; mangos, pears, oranges...why did Eve have to pick that Apple!

A daughter leads her mother on a rope while they take a walk, looking for a place where the mother can bid her final farewell. Before she leaves, they have a picnic, she sings a song, and they chat about the family. An absurd domestic drama played out against the background of a summer’s day by the seaside.

Christmas Eve. A man alone finds someone he can talk to.

"Pétit Jesus, a man speaks in his native French about his loneliness, his desperate need for love. The content of his speech is a poem of his own creation which he holds in his hand (off-camera) and from which he recites. With tears and snot pouring from his face, and a voice wracked with sobs, his "performance" is compelling in its rawness, its stark honesty."

--Scott McLeod, Curator, Moving Stills, Gallery 44, Toronto, 2000

A video adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses shot at the Parkville Senior Center, Connecticut, with the seniors reading the lines from cue cards. The piece addresses society, war, and personal mortality.

Pulling Up Roots is the emotional journey of a woman who is navigating the tenuous strain between the past and the future.

Filmed in an abandoned housing project in Western Ireland, she uproots exotic plants and flowers, as one might collect stories and memories one can’t understand. Condit’s operatic songs and childlike rhymes give a sense of naiveté and strength that comes from her solitude. From a playful skip around the yard, to a moment where profound sadness gives way to unexpected laughter, she explores an entire lifetime of emotions in mere minutes.

 

A portrait of the artist as a not-so-young man. The filmmaker attempts to enter the digital age by making a new video version of one of his old films.

"The award of the Short Film Festival goes to a video in which the reflection of artistic work becomes a form itself. John Smith manages to give us a self-ironic humorous experiment about art and time."

—Prize of the International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen 2000

This title is also available on John Smith: Program 2.

Inventing freedom as they roam, videomaker Ellen Spiro and her dog Sam go west in a vintage Airstream trailer in search of elderly dropouts and their dogs who have pulled out of society and into by-the-side-of-the-road trailer communities. Our mutt narrator tells his tale, sharing his thoughts on America’s smells, the foibles of humans, and his view of aging as another journey. In unplanned meetings with gray nomads, psychic misfits, and free spirits, Roam Sweet Home takes the myths of growing older and turns them on their head.

This tape functions on two levels. Montano addresses menopause and acts out her worst nightmares around that issue—playing the out-of-control, alcoholic crone. By doing this publicly on tape, she felt that she could look at, share and make friends with, her concerns with aging. The experience of viewing this video moves from an autobiographical look at Montano’s process to an interactive game for the viewer.

Shifting Positions is a semi-autobiographical/fictional trilogy exploring becoming queer later in life, my father's dementia, and our mid- and end-of-life crises. The selling of our family home of forty years prompted the making of the first section, entitled 'Last Home', which investigates the ways memories and spirits inhabit a house. In the remaining two sections— 'Napping' and 'Behavior Of Fascination'—the relationship between father and daugther is looked at through 'home movies' and documented intimate moments of private life. —Kathy High

Adopting the movements of various animals, Forti begins the performance by walking hypnotically in circles. She falls to the floor and begins a cycle of walking and crawling that becomes an open metaphor for evolution and aging. Through the course of the performance, the camera follows Forti's circling motion at increasingly close range, creating an interactive dance between camera and performer. While "rustic" in respect to the quality of the video image and sound, Solo No. 1 serves as an engaging document of Forti's dedicated study of natural movement.

"In Some Dark Place, filmmaker Cecelia Condit explores the dislocations of identity and memory that aging forces upon us, without losing sight of life's beauty."

— Milwaukee Film Festival, 2016

"I have always explored the eerie, dark side of human nature."

— Cecelia Condit

Told through the voices of three elderly South Carolinian's who reside in the homes in which they were born, Steven Go Get Me A Switch is an oral history mapping dichotomies of gender, familial mythologies, sexuality, and belief. A heavy use of symbolism comingles with suggestions of narrative proof. The desire to be good and the impossibility of such desire becomes a sharp inaudible pitch, like a dog whistles call to violence.

Part cloning experiment, part documentary, Stories from the Genome follows an unnamed CEO-geneticist whose company sequenced the Human Genome in 2003 — a genome that secretly was his own. Not satisfied with this feat, the scientist self-replicates, producing a colony of clone-scientists to save himself from Alzheimer’s. The animated video switches between misadventures in cloning, and a history of equally improbable theories of human development.

This title is only available on Soft Science.

Recently I found myself rising from a forced landing on the floor after being catapulted into the air by an exercise machine and bouncing off the dresser. Through raccoon eyes, the effect of falling on my face, I squinted into the fog-filled room of my present, stumbling about apprehensively, my long-term memory scrambled and short-term memory severely inhibited. My once reliable body and memory were teetering on the brink of self-betrayal.

Tales of a Future Past is a video about a giraffe and a zebra who fight over an undefined baby creature, in hopes of making it one of their own species. Using toy masks and a sparse theatricality, Cecelia Condit creates a contemporary reflection on species extinction and the lonely, silent world that will ensue from it.

A compilation of too-close observation, animation, and stolen moments, The Seven Wonders of the World adds an eighth: survival at the edge of the known universe — bare-plus life. 

Combining shaky close-ups and stop-frame animations, the video examines people living at the margins of the society, struggling to survive.

In order of appearance: Raymond Beaudoin, Beverly Murray, Ralph Monk, Pauline Mellor, Robert Smith.