Director Sky Bergman’s extraordinary and uplifting film “Lives Well Lived” has been playing in many cities around the country but has yet to find a home in New York City. The tragic closing of the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, taking away a major Manhattan art house, deprived “Lives Well Lived” of an appropriate venue, just as the shuttering has also affected many films that must search for an alternate New York site. Meanwhile, the city’s residents are missing the opportunity to see an exceptionally appealing movie that others in the United States are already enjoying.
Bergman is a successful photographer whose work has been widely displayed internationally at major museums, and who is a professor of photography and video at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. Some of her photographs can be seen in her book, “The Naked & The Nude: Images from the Sculpture Series.” The saga of her Italian grandmother, whom she found vibrant at 103, inspired Bergman to look into lives of other seniors. The result is “Lives Well Lived,” introducing an assortment of impressive seniors who talk about what they have done and are doing with their advanced years.
What makes the film special is that it is not only informative, but invitingly entertaining. The subjects visited and asked to express themselves are articulate and rich in anecdotes from their longevity. One woman does yoga at the age of 85. A 92-year-old doctor finds pleasure in making mozzarella. There are happy couples, as well as widows and widowers, and in the interviewing by director Bergman, they are prompted to tell the various ways they have found to keep enriching their lives.
No need to worry about such a documentary becoming pedantic. It is a pleasure to meet the folks, and while the film should entertain and even inspire oldsters, it should also be a wake-up call to today’s younger generation of viewers about appreciating what can be learned from the experiences of those in the older generation and also indicate the pleasures to be derived from interacting.
You meet 40 people as the subjects in “Lives Well Lived,” and they represent 3000 years of collective life experience. Think about that. A Shadow Distribution release. Reviewed April 16, 2018.