Alzheimer’s examined in Chile Sundance film

PARK CITY, UTAH — The hardships inflicted by Alzheimer’s disease on both sufferers and their families is the theme of award-winning Chilean director Sebastian Silva’s latest Sundance film festival offering.

By (AFP)

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Fri 28 Jan 2011, 12:05 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:50 AM

Starring 89-year-old Belgica Castro, a doyen of Chilean culture, “Old Cats” is being shown in competition, with Silva hoping to triumph again after winning the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2009 with his film “The Maid.”

It tells the story of a turbulent day in the life of Isadora, an elderly woman who is in the first throes of Alzheimer’s, and unenthusiastically receives a surprise visit from her daughter, Rosario.

Isadora decides not to tell her chaotic, talkative, cocaine-sniffing daughter about her condition, especially when she discovers Rosario just wants her to sign a document giving her the apartment.

“I thought it would be interesting to show how the first signs of Alzheimer’s in an old lady can be a source of conflict,” Silva told AFP.

The situation deteriorates, often with comic results, although Silva said he saw the film more as a drama than a comedy. “It’s a mixture, but the humor is based on situations which happen in daily life, not on jokes,” he said.

He said filming “Old Cats” was very emotional for Castro and her real life partner Alejandro Sieveking, who plays her on-screen husband in the film.

All the filming was done in their own apartment. “Everything we see in the film is theirs, including the cats,” Silva said.

“Belgica cried a lot when she saw the film. It was a very cathartic experience for her as the conflicts experienced by her character she also experienced with us,” he explained.

“Isadora’s intimate world is violated by her daughter’s sudden appearance, and Belgica’s intimacy was violated by the arrival of the film crew.”

But he added the comparisons ended there as Castro was lucid and fully-engaged in the world, unlike the character she plays.

More news from