Movie talk series reaching out to seniors

Seniors in Film at the Star Cinema in Sidney hopes to build relationships, community

Sandy Oliver

Loneliness tends to creep up on the weekends for some seniors, says Nancy Gray-Hemstock, a member of Sage-ing International and someone who works with seniors in Greater Victoria.

Whether they are without family or their relatives are far away, the loneliness does occur when people spend a significant amount of time out of the company of other people. It happens to seniors often, said Gray-Hemstock, who has helped come up with a new way for people in Sidney to shed that feeling of isolation.

It’s called the Seniors in Film Series and was suggested by a resident of Sidney to bring seniors out of their homes and into the local movie theatre. Gray-Hemstock said the idea is being copied from a similar program in the Calgary-area and involves watching movies and meeting afterwards to discuss them.

Sidney’s first Seniors in Film event took place last month at the Star Cinema and people watched The Bucket List, a film about two older men who embark on a journey to complete their final to-do lists. Gray-Hemstock said the show and discussion attracted 30 people — pretty good for a program that didn’t get a lot of publicity beforehand, only word-of-mouth.

“Twenty people stayed after the movie for the discussion,” she continued. “The discussion stemmed from the actors’ words in the movie about the afterlife and being questioned about how they had found joy in their lives.”

The Sidney talk went further, she said, and asked people to have a conversation with each other on whether they’d brought joy to others in their lives.

The lively discussion took place in the theatre itself. Gray-Hemstock added they’ll consider having more chairs for this month’s event.

In any case, she said it was great to see people talking to each other in  an open and enthusiastic way. Seniors in Film, she said, seems to be a good way for strangers to meet, talk and generally overcome any loneliness they might have experienced.

“The key to this is the connections taking place and how each one shares their aspects of the community with the others.”

The early success of the program is rewarding for Gray-Hemstock, who through Sage-ing International reaches out to seniors on a regular basis.

The organization focuses on positive and conscientious aging.

“Aging doesn’t always have to be about decline,” she explained. “It can look like what’s really rich and alive in our lives.”

Sage-ing International, according to their website, “is a community of elders and elders-to-be around the globe, whose mission is to create a world which respects and honors elders” through support, empowerment, workshops and making connections within the community.

Gray-Hemstock said the Seniors in Film project has gotten great support from Sandy Oliver, owner of Star Cinema.

The movies and discussion take place on the third Monday of each month and Gray-Hemstock said she hopes they will continue into the new year, after they take a break over December.

The next Seniors in Film showing is Monday, Oct. 21 and the movie will be Defending Your Life, starring Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks.

“That ought to be fun, Gray-Hemstock said, “as it’s a comedy-drama about a couple of people who go to Heaven but they’d like to go back and change a few things.”

In November, the film will be Is Anyone There, starring Michael Caine.

Gray-Hemstock said she hopes Seniors in Film is successful in Sidney and helps build relationships between people and strengthens the community.

“That would be a success for me, having a place where people can share on a richer, deeper level.”

Seniors on Film takes place the third Monday of each month at the Star Cinema in Sidney. The cost is $8 per person. For more information, call Nancy Gray-Hemstock at 250-389-1448.