We may go to the Oscars!

Screenshot 2019-10-13 at 7.05.26 PMOK. It’s unlikely, but Lisa and I are outfit planning. Because why not?!

Our National Science Challenge Project exploring loneliness and social isolation (check out earlier blogs for details) culminated in the production of an animation to raise awareness of social isolation. We were fortunate to work with long time collaborators and highly talented women Shuchi Kothari and Sarina Pearson from the Faculty of Arts. Their filming talents resulted in a short film based on our interviews about culturally diverse older people’s experiences of loneliness and social isolation. And the really exciting news is that the film was one of only eight NZ films to be accepted for screening in the Show Me Shorts Film Festival, currently touring the country. Show me Shorts is Oscars accredited so we have our fingers crossed.

We worked with our Kaumatua to come up with the idea of representing people with birds: an older Korean couple are godwits, a Pāhekā woman is an owl, and the tui is a Māori kuia played by actor Rima Te Wiata. Star of Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Ms Te Wiata described our film as gentle storytelling. “There is a magical element that’s very engaging. Gentle, animated, elderly creatures confiding the difficulties they experience appeals to the child in us all, and opens hearts.”

Sings the owl:

“It’s truly tough getting older, nothing is like it used to be, my husband is dead, my friends are all gone, my kids all live overseas…trust me I don’t need your pity… I like my independence…time keeps marching on and on, so I don’t regret what I lack…we’re not invisible, we’re not senile, all we’d like is a visit once in a while…”

We hope Elder Birdsong will be used by schools, healthcare professionals and organisations such as Age Concern – a partner in our original research – to use as a teaching tool and to raise awareness nationally about loneliness, isolation and connection among older adults. It will also be entered in film festivals internationally. And maybe win an Oscar 🙂

For more information about the Show me Shorts festival which is currently touring NZ see: http://www.showmeshorts.co.nz/programme/unconventional-families/

We will post the animation soon. Watch this space!

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