This new short film explores the power of music and art in dementia care

Amanze is a new film from London-based director and producer Lucy Hawes, commissioned by The Photobook Project. We’re premiering it exclusively on Crack Magazine.

Director Lucy Hawes has shared a new short film highlighting the ways in which music and culture can empower the lives of people with dementia. Entitled Amanze, the eight-minute film takes its name from its star, Ronald Amanze. The film was commissioned by The Photobook Project – an arts-based dementia initiative founded by Ellie Robinson-Carter, a creative dementia practitioner and consultant.

In the film, Hawes delves into Amanze’s Jamaican heritage, while also exploring his life and experiences across adolescence and beyond, including his work as a former artist manager, label and pirate radio owner. The film also looks back on the moment in which he was diagnosed with dementia. 

“Through this film, we hope to raise awareness of who is at greater risk, challenge stereotypes, reach a more diverse audience – in age and ethnicity – and emphasise the benefits that the arts can have for those with the diagnosis,” says Hawes.

Statistically, Black African and Black Caribbean people are more likely to develop dementia, and at younger ages than white people. This information inspired the tenth chapter of The Photobook Project, My Dementia Life Matters, which Amanze participated in and played an integral part in shaping. As part of the wider The Photobook Project initiative, people with dementia are invited to take a photo every day on a single-use camera, capturing their stories and visions. Amanze discusses the importance the project has had on his life in the film. 

“There’s also a great amount of fear around dementia in our society, arguably heightened by words like ‘tsunami of dementia’ and ‘losing themselves’ in the media, which can cause problems when a person receives a diagnosis,” adds Robinson-Carter. “We want to show what is still possible. As Ronald beautifully says: ‘The diagnosis might be an ignition for people to embrace another phase of life. I just did not notice the world the way I notice it now’”. 

The film was shot earlier this year, largely during lockdown. “Like everything at that time, the project grew online from isolation,” explains Hawes. “Wanting to capture the essence of this moment in time, the voiceover narrative was cut together from several telephone interviews with Ronald. The shoot was the first time our team and crew had seen each other since the pandemic had hit, and the first time that either Ellie or I had actually met Ronald in the flesh after months of working together remotely, so it was quite emotional when we all finally united.”

“Shooting in the height of lockdown with a vulnerable cast member definitely had its challenges,” she adds. “We made sure we kept to the strict industry Covid-safe standards and had a skeletal crew to limit the amount of people Ronald was exposed to. It definitely got pretty chilly with all the windows and doors open for ventilation, and shooting lots outside during February, but Ronald was an absolute trooper and had more energy than the majority of us, to be honest!”

Watch Amanze in the player above, and find out more about The Photobook Project here