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Redefining aging through film

Have you thought about your 'third act'? Depicting positive aging through film is what THIRD ACTion Film Festival is all about, and it's time for this year's edition--in person and online.

The THIRD ACTion Film Festival was created with the goal of presenting more films that show older adults in an effort to redefine the perimeters of what aging looks like. The films focus on the fact that older adults are vital, active and doing important things in the world.

Fast forward five years and the THIRD ACTion Film Festival is growing an audience hungry to see people like themselves reflected in the story lines of the films. The festival runs June 10-12 in Calgary (in person) and online, and includes 10 screenings, showcasing a total of 36 films. The films take a close look at the triumphs, opportunities and challenges encountered during one’s golden age, and shows that seniors are a treasure to society due to their lifetime of accumulated knowledge.

“We want to show people that Canadians are living longer than ever before and aging is not a story of frailty and decline, but of possibility and joy and purpose.” said Mitzi Murray, executive director of THIRD ACTion film festival. “We need to see seniors more often in the media we consume. We’re building awareness. We want to change the narrative to making more films about positive aging and to get it out on TV and the internet.”

Murray points to a study that shows imaging of those age 55 and up on the internet were up to seven times more likely to be depicted in a negative situation than a positive one. It's one of the reasons Murray started the film festival.

“Most of the imaging of seniors is medicalized, or show seniors as not being important. The viewer begins to feel they are frail and dependent just by looking at the screen," said Murray.

The creation of THIRD ACTion was an opportunity to promote the idea of person’s ‘third act’, the last three or four decades of a person’s life. Murray wanted to foster the idea of planning for and providing inspiration for what those years could look like.

“When we’re kids, we plan what we’re going to do when we grow up and where we’re going to live, etc. If you don’t plan for the third act how can everything come to fruition? We want to show the possibilities,” said Murray. “Thirty years offers so much potential to learn new things, do things differently or just keep up the things you love. It’s about finding and determining what your third act looks like. Research shows if we have a positive attitude about aging, it could contribute to lengthening your life.”

THIRD ACTion partners with other organizations that focus on positive aging. Senior Moments, a project launched by positive aging advocate Jeff Rubin, has joined THIRD ACTion in a commitment to changing perceptions around ageism and what it means to age positively. See more on the Senior Moments initiative at wisdomofage.net.

“We are excited to support the Senior Moments initiative and to extend our partnerships outside Canada," Murray said. "Jeff has been a longtime advocate/activist for aging well and shifting the narrative on aging. We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership on this project.” 

To celebrate THIRD ACTion’s fifth year, a free in-person screening of Beloved, a Persian film with English subtitles, runs June 10 at noon at Calgary’s Central Library, 800 – 3 Street S.E. The film follows an 82-year-old woman, Firouzeh, who is ‘fiercely independent’ and has worked hard her whole life in the mountains of Northern Iran.

Whether showing older adults in strong roles doing great things or simply in the reality of what aging brings, Murray is confidant the films in this year’s festival line up will stimulate conversation and get viewers curious about their own potential.

“We want to normalize aging. The whole idea it to take action--and we want everyone to have the best third act possible.”

For more information and tickets, see www.thirdactionfilmfest.ca