There are few films that are able to leave a lingering effect even after the credits start to roll, but "Alive Inside" did just that. This documentary by Michael Rossotto-Bennett follows the travels of social worker Dan Cohen who is the founder of Music & Memory, a nonprofit organization that focuses on fighting memory loss with music. When this film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, it brought the audience to their feet and not surprisingly won the Audience Award.
Alive Inside really brings up important questions that most of us try to put in the back of our heads. However, the one that stood out the most was “Who are we without our memory?” Dementia is something that affects millions of elderly Americans, and the film focuses specifically on those elderly Americans that are a part of a broken healthcare system. In the film, the elderly in these nursing homes are compared to machines with different knobs and dials. We have perfected how to adjust these knobs and dials with medicine to keep them healthy, but not once has anybody tried to help adjust their feelings. The raw footage of how these elderly react when they are given their favorite song is truly remarkable and really proves Cohen’s point that a little music can go a long way.
In addition, the film stresses that we cannot continue to treat our elderly in this manner. Again, although it is something that nobody wants to think about, in a few decades, we will be in the same position as these elderly. Is that a future that we envision for ourselves? Is that how we want to grow old? What is the point of working so hard your whole life to then only be isolated from your normal life until you die? All in all, "Alive Inside" is definitely one of a kind. From the idea that music can help combat memory loss to the depiction of our health system, this film will leave you extremely humbled. There is only so much that Dan Cohen can do by himself. However, as the film teaches, being able to have an enormous impact on a dementia patient’s life is as simple as ask them, “What’s your favorite song?”