Italian students tell the story of Italy's elderly

Italy is a country that is aging quickly, considering that over the past decade the amount of elderly has increased, as well as the "very old," (over eighty), who constitute about 6% of the Italian population. Life expectancy has also increased; in 2012 men reached 80 years old and women 85 years old. On the other hand, the birth rate is among the lowest in Europe, the average number of children per woman is 1.42. Within the next 20 years a ratio of two elderly people for every young person will be reached, and the average life expectancy of 43.7 years (14% of the population is 0-14 years of age, 65.3% is 15 -64 years, 20.6% aged 65 and over) will rise again.

In her book "The youth told the elderly" (2010), Dr. Rita Cavigioli invites us to reflect on aging, intergenerational dialogue and cultural transmission. Her approach is multidisciplinary, using different interpretive tools including: sociology, discourse analysis, cultural history, and studies filmic. Dr. Cavigioli argues that "An old man has a story—he is memory. One can not speak of our elderly without mentioning the wealth of our personal and collective memory, as well as one can not speak of history without mentioning the role of transmission of the memory of a family or community, of which they are charged, more or less actively and consciously, the elderly." Promoting contact and communication between young people and the elderly is therefore essential to the welfare of society, memory, and our history.

Italian initiatives aimed at promoting intergenerational communication mainly focus on old film festivals. There are also many contests directed to schools and local communities that invite children and young people to submit essays, poems, drawings and videos about old age and the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, and reflect on daily experiences of today and yesterday. The most recent initiative is "Memoro, the Bank of Memory," a project born in Turin in 2007 which produced 70 short stories and 40 video interviews with the elderly, a project that was acclaimed as "an emotional story of the last century." Dr. Cavigioli prefers to reflect in her book of another initiative, the "Video Contest" Francesco Pasinetti of Venice.

In 2008, the archive of Francesco Pasinetti's contest consisted of more than 100 short films made by students of elementary schools and universities, and independent young artists whose theme revolved around the history of young people in an aging Venice. It is no coincidence that he chose the city of Venice, which, "with its iconic resonance," says Dr.Cavigioli, "represents a scenario that ideally embraces personal and collective memories, endangered traditions and crafts, environmental dilemmas, and socio-democratic concerns." The primary purpose of the "Video Contest" has been to promote dialogue between generations and improve young people's perception of themselves and the world around them. It 's interesting to note that most of the young people of Venice expressed positive opinions on the elderly primarily emphasizing the ability an elderly person expresses affection, while negative judgments against the elderly (in particular presumptions, intrusiveness, self-centeredness, rudeness), opinions that were mainly expressed by young people who are not surrounded by the elderly and therefore do not really know much about them.

Among the short films of the video competition, I found one film particularly interesting, "Guilty oblivion, 2005." The video was made by 24 year-old Alberto Baraldi and is set in Mestre, Marghera and Marcon. With suggestive imagines, the young Baraldi recounts the rhythms and rituals of society and how the tranquil and naturally beautiful landscape has now been scarred by industrial decline and the hectic pace of work. The video shows fragments of street life of elderly people, always alone and unnoticed, slowly walking on busy roads. This is followed by fast motion images of the industrialized Petrochemical city of Marghera with motorways, bridges, waste, and legs in frantic motion. It then frames the face of an old man, and the pace slows, lingering gently on his face, and Petrochemical. The author tells us that the old man is an ex-worker of Petrochemical rethinking his life and who has since contracted a disease by working there.

The idea of Alberto Baraldi is obvious: the marginalization of the elderly is compared to that of nature. Nature and the elderly are marginalized due to social life which is too fast, frantic, too technical, so unnatural and inhuman. We forget the beauty of a natural landscape and that the elderly, are more and more isolated and crushed by modern societies.

In 2012 the first prize was won by Alessandro Tamburini with his video for "Necessary Love" for his ability have portrayed with irony and freshness the theme of love in old age, a love full of verve and joy, forever young.