The presenter reads aloud and repeats the numbers coming out of the bingo machine. As the numbers alternate the older lady in a yellow shirt and beige sweater closely follows her bingo sheet. In a gentle cheerleading spirit, she is expecting number 33. When the presenter reads number 50, she slowly jokes with her friend and then proceeds to follow the sheet. The introductory scene of Martin Draksler’s “Alzheimer Cafe” is much easier to attribute to fiction than documentary, but as this 21-year-old director shows in his second short film, life sometimes just serves much better stories than we can imagine.
“Alzheimer Cafe” follows the lives of the elderly couple Medica, Ivan and Jožica, who spent 70 years together sharing good, evil, happiness, sadness, and lately, as Ivan suffers from Alzheimer’s, the couple has begun to share oblivion. Their lives have led them from their parents’ home, through their own home to a nursing home, where now, through the film lens, we observe how calmly they enjoy the remaining days of life, however much life become harder every moment.
Martin Draclser has only one short film previously to this one (She’s Looking for the Shadow, He’s Waiting) and obviously a great talent and potential for directing. Although, from the already mentioned introductory footage, it is evident that by deeper penetration into the film, this thesis becomes more and more apparent. Young Draksler is moving away from the outdated and semi-effective approaches of the documentary form, which we can often see on TV. “Alzheimer Cafe” is a film that has no violent narration with the voice of a director or character, as well as pretentious forced framing to leave a more beautiful and professional impression. that is why it is a very soulful film.
The weight of life and the beauty of old age, contrasting themselves in front of the camera, unnoticed by the beholder. Jožica’s morning routine, getting out of bed and putting herself in a wheelchair, going to feed her immobile husband, are presented honestly as they are. The same is true of the rest of their day, and several different activities they engage in (for example, Jožica learns English, Ivan goes to physical therapy). It is this simplicity of everyday life that is the place where this couple’s connection is best seen. Their emotions are cordial and honest with one another, and even the smallest facial expression and movement they make is filled with caring for one another.
“Time goes by and we don’t even notice it,” says Ivan at one point in the film, perfectly describing what director Draclser serves to our audience, in this 15 minutes long documentary. “Alzheimer Cafe” premiered at the eighth edition of the DokuDoc Film Festival where it also won the award for the best film.