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Saturday, January 18, 2014

'Alive Inside' Wins at Sundance

Saturday UpdateAlive Inside tonight won the Audience Award at Sundance for a U.S. documentary, and here's hoping the film is on its way to a commercial release. Director Rossato-Bennett earlier told The Salt Lake Tribune  that the program featured in the film, Music & Memory, will be part of a U.S. government pilot program, and the state of Wisconsin has signed on to put music in every nursing home in the state. The film's theatrical release is still getting sorted out. In accepting the award, Rossato-Bennett told the audience: “I made this film because it moved me, and I didn’t know how big the topic was.”

He added that he made the film "most of it, in my bedroom, across from my bed." He thanked his wife for not killing him. 

Earlier: A few years ago an astonishing video that showed a man, who'd been uncommunicative in a nursing home for 10 years, suddenly singing and talking after listening via iPod to music from his past, went viral (and now has nearly 8 million views). The footage was part of Michael Rossato-Bennett's documentary, Alive Inside, premiering this weekend at Sundance.

I saw a version of the film a few years ago, an exhilarating look at social worker Dan Cohen's use of personalized music as a way to stir the memory and emotion of nursing home residents. (I've surely seen this with my own mother; cue up Ray Charles' "Come Rain or Come Shine," and joy ensues.) As Oliver Sachs says in the film: "Music is not luxury to them, but a necessity, and can have a power beyond anything else to restore them to themselves, and to others, at least for a while."  The film's web site also has info on how to donate  to Dan Cohen's Music & Memory Project. -- B.B. 

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