Active aging – going to the movies
Staff at the public health agency of the City of Frankfurt and the University of Heidelberg have collaborated to launch the Silver Screen Festival. The Festival promotes the idea of healthy ageing and improving quality of life for older people. The main activity is based around showing films to intergenerational audiences in community groups, schools and cinemas. The films screened portray positive images of older people, and interaction through a mixture of activities, e.g. having a Silver Screen Lounge with tea and coffee, film discussions with directors, actors, film experts or other interested local partners working in the field of health promotion for older people. This project creates new opportunities for social exchange between older and younger people and implements cultural activities that invite all generations to meet, get to know, and learn from each other.
This project was shortlisted for the 'EUROCITIES Awards' in 2018 in the following category: Participation.
In 2010 Matthias Roos, a psychologist from Frankfurt’s public health department, and Dr Michael Doh, a University of Heidelberg gerontologist, were discussing health and wellbeing of the elderly. During their discussions, their shared love of cinema came up. As a popular feature of elderly people’s culture and heritage, could the cinema play a part in enhancing their lives now? The duo decided it could: by activating fond memories of the cinema from their youth and providing examples of dealing with the challenges, choices and opportunities of ageing. They also discussed cinema as a platform for bringing older and younger generations together and strengthen community bonds.
They developed their idea for the ‘Silver Screen Festival’ and took their proposal to Frankfurt’s public health authority. The festival found favour with both the authority and key politicians.
- To create new opportunities for an exchange between old and young.
- To further cinema visits and social exchange for the 50+ target group.
- make more screenings free of charge in support social inclusion and accessibility.
- To establish an annual event in European partner cities.
- To be part of a European network and to look at pro ageing with a European perspective.
Promoting healthier and happier ageing, and solidarity and support among communities is increasingly seen as the cornerstones of improved quality of life.
The Silver Screen Festival creates new opportunities for social exchange between old and young and implements cultural activities that invite all generations to participate. It is important to show that ageing does not have to be seen merely as being connected to limitations and restrictions, but can also involve new outlooks, curiosity, and opportunities.
People over 50 and youngsters are invited to their local cinema for a welcome coffee and conversation followed by screenings of films selected for their portrayal of inspiring new images of active and healthy ageing. After this, question and answer sessions give the audience a chance to hear from special guests ranging from directors and actors to film experts and local health promotion specialists. Tickets cost €6, less than usual cinema prices, with the first and final festival screenings being free.
The Silver Screen Festival archive focuses on films and documentaries with older people at the heart of the plot. Its 80 films range in subject matter from coping with illness to falling in love in later life, discovering new horizons by travelling and learning and becoming more involved in society, politics and local issues. Above all, the films, sourced, are chosen for their ability to inspire, touch and prompt new outlooks and the sharing of experiences.
The festival also holds a special annual screening of winning entries from the German Generations film awards, which sponsors short films made by teams of old and young people.
The Silver Screen Festival was founded by the public health authority of Frankfurt and the University of Heidelberg, which together contributed €10,000.
The association for demographic change of the Rhine-Neckar region contributed funds of €50,000 and promoted the festival to its 200-strong membership of towns and villages and produced customisable templates for leaflets and posters that can be downloaded from the festival website.
Winning the ‘German senior citizens’ award’ from the Robert Bosch foundation in 2013 gave the festival another valuable boost to both its funding and profile.
Citizens in over 70 cities and villages across Germany are being encouraged to leave their homes and socialise at festival screenings, helping the fight against social exclusion and loneliness. The number of venues has dramatically increased following the decision to hold screenings not only in cinemas, which can be expensive, but also in village halls, schools and churches. This greater accessibility is enabled by local organisers from neighbourhood groups, carers’ organisations, charities and social enterprises. Spin-off events have emerged too. These include storytelling afternoons where someone whose own experience mirrors the topic of a screened film shares their life story
Ageing is routinely portrayed as a difficult, dreary time of life, beset by restrictions and struggles - if it is acknowledged at all. With Germany’s population of over-60s set to grow significantly in the coming decades, finding new ways to overturn this negative image and reduce the country’s healthcare burden is vital. A forecast dramatic increase in the number of people with dementia in the same timeframe adds another layer of complexity to the problem.
The Silver Screen Festival concept has spread following a 2015 workshop in Frankfurt, CINAGE, European Cinema for Active Ageing, to which senior citizens and decision makers from all over Europe were invited. It has been adopted in the Netherlands and Portugal and is due to make its debut in the United Kingdom soon.
Cities in action: Frankfurt's silver screen festival, active ageing going to the movies, EUROCITIES, November 2018: https://use.metropolis.org/system/images/2690/original/2018_participation_Frankfurt.pdf