Unfortunately, it’s almost a rarity to see elderly faces on tv screens in this day and age, and when you do, they are generally portrayed in a slow-moving, subdued, dull, and overly stereotyped manner.
Being negatively pigeonholed on a grand scale has the ability to shape a society’s attitude towards the worth of elderly people, and it can also have an effect on how these people view their own capabilities.
Changing these types of attitudes is not a quick fix, but one of the ways to combat these types of false narratives is by showcasing everyday Australians who smash the negative stereotypes that they are so often represented by.
And contrary to popular belief, finding older Australians who defy the negative stigmas attached with age, was not as hard as you might think.
Fearless films is a co-production between respected aged care service provider Feros Care and screen-based charity Screenworks, who both shared a vision to film and document the lives of everyday Australians with extraordinary mindsets, who were living their best lives.
And this collaboration has resulted in a collection of 9 inspiring mini-documentaries that have been getting rave reviews around the country.
Tarnya Sim from Feros Care, sat down with HelloCare to talk about the reasoning and reactions to the groundbreaking new series.
“Our main concept for this project was to find seniors who refused to let their age define who they are and what they are capable of. We wanted to find people who smashed stereotypes and embraced their age,” said Tarnya.
“We put out the call to seniors over the age of 75 in the Northern Rivers area who wanted to be involved in a project, and what we got was a collection of some of the most inspiring stories from people who made the conscious decision to live their best life.”
One of the most striking aspects about the Fearless Films series is that these are not stories about amazing people who are doing extraordinary things.
These are every day Australian, older people, who just-so-happen to have amazing attitudes that allow them to live a life that seems unordinary for someone of that age.
The subjects of each film are all from various backgrounds and walks of life, and one woman by the name of Nina didn’t even discover her fearless attitude towards ageing until the ripe old age of 94.
Nina Milenko Marzi from Byron Bay is a 97-year-old woman who essentially moved from Russia to Australia at the age of 94 to die.
Nina expressed in her film that upon arriving on Australian shores, she told her son that she would probably only live for a few months and that she had “already done everything that you’re supposed to do before dying.”
Amazingly, Nina’s fearless moment came at a community Women’s Day Event where she stumbled across another charismatic elderly woman by the name of Feather, who asked Nina if she wanted to learn to play the drums.
To which Nina reluctantly agreed.
This set off a chain reaction within Nina’s life that had her saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity and reaping the rewards of a life focused on finding out about what you can do, rather than what you can’t.
Nina, who struggled to walk prior to meeting Feather, is now out there on a weekly basis dancing and reconnecting with the passions that she had at a younger age.
Nina’s friend Feather is also one of the subjects from the 9 film series, and this feisty 82-year-old boasts an attitude that people from any age group would struggle to match in terms of zest and adventure.
Feather refuses to be defined by age, and spends her time dancing in pubs, dragging Nina to the Gold Coast to watch bands play, and sunbathing nude in the Byron Bay area.
Feather’s infectious personality and thirst for life has a profound effect on everyone she meets, evidenced by her chance encounter with Nina, that resulted in turning her from a 94-year-old who couldn’t walk and awaited death, into a 97-year-old dancing machine who spends her days smiling and Op-shopping with Feather.
These ladies are only two of the unique characters showcased within the fearless films series, and the other seven films also boast amazing older people with unbelievable stories.
These stories range from sporting prodigies who have rekindled their passion for life through sport, through to people that found goals and passions later in life and pursued them to the fullest in order to find their happiness.
87-year-old Peter Warner’s story stands out amongst the pack, sounding like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster. And while I don’t want to spoil too much, his story involves deserted islands, high sea adventures and an unbreakable bond between two men that beggars belief.
It’s almost impossible not to smile while watching the Fearless Films series, and while there are a few moments that evoke tears, there is an undeniable feeling of self-assessment that comes with these films.
It is so inspiring to see older people who are in love with life, that it makes you aspire to create new goals for yourself; and according to Tarnya Sim, these feelings were not exclusive to me and the rest of the HelloCare team.
“We had a red carpet premiere for the movies, and we picked up the seniors from the films in limousines and they came out and introduced their films to the audience,” said Tarnya
“After the films I had people coming up to me, telling me that they were going to set their alarm clocks for 6am the next morning just to get up early and start living their life. So if that the feeling that these films are giving people, then job done,” she said.
One of the main things that stands out across all of the films is that each of the subjects being interviewed has pursuits and goals that keep them mentally and physically engaged.
And these goals require these people to have driven mindsets, which seems to be a catalyst for a happy and purposeful life in old age.
“Getting old does not mean giving up on life. We believe that this is the point where people need to step on the accelerator and do everything that they have ever wanted to do,” said Tarnya.
You can watch all 9 of the Fearless Films for free by clicking right here.