Old and told: Filmmaker produces ‘movie memoirs’ for seniors

Aug 24th, 2016 | By | Category: Spotlight
"Seniors' stories, life experiences and wisdom are inspirational and shouldn't be ignored," says Deyoung Zhou.

“Seniors’ stories, life experiences and wisdom are inspirational and shouldn’t be ignored,” says Deyoung Zhou.

Imagine you are in a movie scene where you are the main character. Your story is told by the camera. Your memory is re-enacted on the screen. You keep your slice of life in time, and you leave your legacy behind. Contemporaries can recognize you. Following generations have a souvenir to remember you by.

Memory Community, a non-profit organization formed by Deyoung Zhou in 2011 in Olalla, has been making this sort of movies for seniors in Tacoma, Seattle and neighboring cities.

“I moved to the United States from Taiwan in 2010 and found out that my dream of building a community by people’s memories could be realized. I name my work “movie-memoir” as a contrast to conventional memoirs in print,” Zhou said.

With a Masters degree in cinema from New York University, Zhou has been making fictional as well as documentary films for over three decades. Memory Community set out to serve seniors, “but I have a vision that a movie-memoir is for all ages,” he said. “At present, seniors are my priority, as this generation is growing rapidly and deserves immediate attention. Their stories, life experiences and wisdom are inspirational and should not be ignored.

Many rich and famous people publish biographies or memoirs to sell. Zhou said ordinary people “are more in my interest.”

Their movie memoirs are not for sale, but for sharing, he said, adding that finished work can be seen on Memory Community’s website at http://memorycommunity.org.

“I want to make movie memoirs especially for the common, the disadvantaged, and immigrants,” he said. “I do not charge for my service, but I appreciate donations of any amount. I started Memory Community literally from zero, and I definitely need funds, interviewees and volunteers to keep my project going strong.”

Zhou said the Chinese have a saying that “A senior in a family is like a treasure in a family.” Most seniors like to share their histories with younger generations, but many young people do not take time to hear them out, so having seniors record their images and voices on video can make “story sharing and receiving” much more fun, he said.

“Everyone has at least one everlasting memory. Every senior comes from childhood, youth, and golden age. Being also a poet, memory for me is history, story and poetry when it’s old and told. My movie-memoirs for my clients have always been made with a poetic realism,” Zhou said. “I always say that we were born, we grow, we age, we remember, and we are all in one great memory community.

Zhou said he can be contacted at 253-8582445 and  deyung@memorycommunity.org “for your free, custom-made movie-memoir,” or for making a donation or volunteering.