Would the toddlers revolt? Would the elderly thrive? What sorts of intergenerational exchanges might take place? What kind of tenderness might be shared? And what might we adults learn about how we treat our young—and especially our elderly—in the process?
Documentary filmmaker Evan Briggs wanted to find out. This week, after she published a trailer for the film depicted a year in the life of a preschool-nursing home collaboration, the Internet roared in response.
“It’s really tapping into the fact that we all kind of know on an instinctual level that our relationship to aging and the elderly has been broken for a long time and that’s not a good situation for them—or for us,” Evans told Motherly in an interview.
And the children? Well, they are deeply enriched by the relationships, too. Take a look:
A trailer for ‘Present Perfect,’ the true story shot from 2012-2013 in a Seattle preschool/ area nursing home went viral this week, and with it, the Kickstarter campaign she launched to raise the funds necessary to edit her footage into final form quickly raised (so far) $67,000 dollars.
Evan’s film captures a year in the life of The Intergenerational Learning Center, in which five days a week, the children and residents “come together in a variety of planned activities such as music, dancing, art, lunch, storytelling or just visiting. These activities result in mutual benefits for both generations.“
In one of the more poignant scenes from the clip, an elderly resident tries to understand as a boy, “Max,” explains what his name is. “Mac? Match? Matt? Oh, Max!”
“With neither past nor future in common, the relationships between the children and the residents exist entirely in the present. Despite the difference in their years, their entire sense of time seems more closely aligned,” Evan explains in the Kickstarter campaign. They are, the very young and the very old, more able than the rest of us to be present in the current moment, and thus, to one another.
Evan, herself a mother of two (due “any time!” with her third child), launched her work for ‘Present Perfect’ in 2012 on her own initiative, while working several other jobs as a professor and freelance video producer. Then, as a woman with two children and a grandfather entering a nursing facility during the same time period when she was filming, Evan says she “felt like where I was at a place in my life where I had an appreciate for how fleeting the moments really are.”
She also believes that being a mother was an asset in her filmmaking for ‘Present Perfect,’ as she was more easily able to gain the trust of preschool administrators, parents, and ultimately, the children themselves.
After hearing from so many people from around the world in the last week after they watched the trailer, Evan reflects: “A lot of people have a lot of personal experience with [elderly family members]. We all know that it could be better.”
Joining forces between young and old, Evan says, is a simple, but wonderfully enriching, place to start.