Alzheimer’s disease came on the national radar screen in earnest in Norway in March 2008 when former Minister of Fisheries, Jan Henry T. Olsen, and his wife Laila Lanes went public and told the nation about Jan Henry’s illness. The matter aroused considerable interest, both in Norway and abroad.
Since then, the couple has contributed to radio and TV programmes. They have been covered in the newspapers and held lectures at conferences in Norway and abroad and in pensioners associations and local dementia organizations, and they have taken part in a great many events related to the Alzheimer’s problem. They have answered countless inquiries from people whose situation is similar to their own. They have also published a book, written by Laila Lanes, about living with Alzheimer’s disease.
The book has become a best-seller in Norway, and Jan Henry and Laila have received many distinctions for their efforts to create more openness around the disease. Their unparalleled efforts have greatly increased public awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia, and they have jointly taken up the challenge of struggling to gain acceptance and dignity for the many others who suffer the same fate.
This film about these two people is unique in several ways. We have not previously seen such an honest and straightforward portrayal in the media of what it is like to live with Alzheimer’s disease – of the havoc it plays with the lives of those who have the disease and of their closest relatives. The film is a gentle and respectful portrait of two courageous people and their struggle to maintain their love and courage in the face of a merciless disease. This portrayal will draw both smiles and tears; it will touch you and give you fresh insight. The film respects the dignity of its subjects and communicates a sense of pride and respect.
The special thing about film as a medium is that it gives us an opportunity to communicate feelings and experiences that move us. This film about Laila and Jan Henry has an intimate, unsentimental form. It gives us a picture of two open, charismatic persons, and with the rich narrative potential and special characteristics of documentary film, it conveys more nuances and feelings about this topic than any other film we have yet seen.
Commenting on the form of the film, documentary film consultant Maria Fuglevaag Warsinska-Varsi at the Norwegian Film Institute says,
”Using an intimate and poetic form, this film conveys a rather difficult personal story in a good and unsentimental way so it touches us all…”
In the wake of their book, this film can go a step further in helping to remove many of the taboos that are still associated with dementia.
Hilde Korsæth has an education in film and TV from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and from Canada. She has broad experience with documentary filmmaking, as a cinematographer, director, editor and producer. After working for many years at NRK, she has been an independent filmmaker since 2000, taking on projects for Norwegian and foreign TV channels and film producers. Based in Tromsø, Norway, she has a particular focus on stories from the High North.
Her previous films include:
From Vardø with Love (2006)
Biznis i zik-zak (Biznis in zig-zag) (2002)
Føde for sjelen (Food for the Soul) (1999)
Producer John Arvid Berger from Jabfilm has 20 year’s experience in film and TV production. Jabfilm was established in Tromsø, Norway in 1995 and is currently a film, TV and multimedia production company. The company currently has three employees and is associated with a large network of free-lance filmmakers.
His previous productions include:
Sjøsprøyt (Sea Spray) (2010)a TV series, Medvind Media/NRK, co-producer Vindenes Hus (House of Winds) (2009)a documentary film, Jabfilm for NRK, co-producer Iskaldt (Dead Cold) (2007)a short film released for Cinema, DVD and festivals, producer Fyret (The Lighthouse) (2005)a short film released for Cinema, DVD and festivals, producer Den Frosne Smeltedigel (The Frozen Melting Pot) (2005)a 26-minute documentary film, Jabfilm, producer