Thursday, October 27, 2016

'Directed by North Merchiston' by Duncan Cowles

27 October 2016

On Wednesday evening I was at North Merchiston Care Home in Edinburgh for the launch of ‘Directed by North Merchiston’ - a series of five short films created by residents of the care home working with the film-maker Duncan Cowles. Cowles, who is only 26 years old, spent three months visiting his five collaborators, whose ages range from 84 to 101. In each case he asked them what film they would want to make and developed five very individual pieces, each about 7 or 8 minutes long. The films are beautiful, funny and very poignant, reminding us that care home residents are each fascinating individuals with very different characters. So many arts in care home projects revert to a standard reminiscence format and it was wonderful to see how Duncan Cowles avoided this. Much of each film was focussed on the process of making the film, with us seeing the residents watching footage of themselves speaking to camera to decide what to use. This self analysis helped to give us a very clear picture of these older people as they are today, rather than just focussing on their memories. After watching the films you really felt you knew these individuals well, so it was fascinating to have three of them in the audience for the screening together with many members of their families. It was also interested to see the effect the project had had on Cowles himself who has become a familiar and regular visitor to North Merchiston Care Home and a good friend to the residents. You can read an interview with Duncan Cowles and watch some short teaser videos at:

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