The Danish Dementia Research Centre at Rigshospitalet, the largest hospital in Denmark, estimates that some 90,000 people in Denmark are suffering from dementia. This number will only grow as our life expectancy increases. As memory fails, the quality of life of those with dementia and their relatives declines dramatically. After all, it is what we remember that largely shapes who we are.
Nevertheless, distant memories may remain intact in people with dementia.
Since 2020, the Danish Film Institute has been working with researchers, caregivers, relatives, and people with dementia in an attempt to reawaken those memories by way of historical films.
The Memory Cinema concept has proved effective at evoking memories, as moving images of familiar places, for instance, as well as familiar music, can jog the memory. In this way, films can perpetuate the past for those whose memory is failing and serve as the basis for conversation between them and their relatives.
The Danish Film Institute has just received DKK 2.45 million (EUR 329,000) from the Danish fund Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond for the continued development of Memory Cinema. This grant means that the project can be rolled out as a national care project in Denmark’s care homes and cinemas, as well as via an app.
Jakob Buhl Vestergaard, Deputy Managing Director of the Danish Film Institute, says:
"At the Danish Film Institute, we’re incredibly pleased that we now have the opportunity to secure the nationwide expansion of Memory Cinema, which has proved to have huge potential in the work with those suffering with dementia. It’s a pleasure to be able to launch such a project that demonstrates so well what can be achieved when the overall ambition to digitalise film heritage goes hand in hand with efforts to have these films used in contexts where they can create joy and be of value – in this case in a completely new way."
Over the past six years, the Danish Film Institute has digitalised a considerable part of Danish film heritage. More than 2,000 historical documentaries from the archive have been made available online at the 'Denmark on film' streaming site. This work is fundamental to the realisation of a project such as Memory Cinema.
Memory Cinema – in care homes and cinemas and at home
Memory Cinema and its film packages and dialogue material can already be accessed online. As the project continues to be rolled out, this will be supplemented with an app. Over the next few years, the Danish Film Institute will produce more film packages. These will include films related to local areas. In addition, the Danish Film Institute will work with care homes and cinemas across Denmark to provide special screenings for people with dementia and their relatives and caregivers.
Memory Cinema has been developed and trialled in co-operation with Via University College, the Pedershave care home north of Copenhagen, the Municipality of Rudersdal, and the Reprise Cinema.
Memory Cinema previously received a grant of DKK 500,000 (EUR 67,000) from the Aage og Johannes Louis-Hansens Fund.