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Coming of Age Film Festival Celebrates Seniors on the Silver Screen

The Coming of Age Film Festival at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park offers a humanistic portrait of aging in America and around the world. Now in its 10th year, the event was started by former professors from SDSU’s Department of Gerontology, after the university abolished the department.

“Faculty and students put up a fight to protest the move, and a retired professor from SDSU sent us a check to support our activities,” recalls Mario Garrett, the festival’s curator and co-founder. “As a group we thought that the best use of the money was to do something for the public. The film series came about as a way of showing the public what gerontology is all about.”

The festival will feature a series of five films, showing every Friday in May at 7 p.m. Opening night is Friday, May 3. All screenings are free, and will be prefaced with a brief statement from festival co-founder and former gerontology professor, Joaquin Anguera, PhD.

The films range from Disney Pixar’s vibrantly animated Coco to the inspirational documentary Alive Inside about one man’s quest to harness the power of music to combat dementia. As curator, Garrett was charged with choosing the festival’s selections, carefully considering the way each work conveyed the aging process.

“I look for films that move away from stereotypes and portray older adults as human characters (rather than old characters) with faults and foibles,” he explains. “Films are selected if they express this humanity of aging.”

The San Diego Seniors Community Foundation is proud to be a sponsor of the Coming of Age Film Festival. We are committed to supporting innovative programs and partners—like this unique event—that create awareness and help improve the quality of life for local seniors.

After attending a screening, Garrett hopes that people walk away with a greater understanding and empathy for the aging community.

“This might not be what we want but it is what we are given,” he says. “I hope people see that aging is not all negative, that there are positive aspects to getting old, and that within this change, there is great ambiguity and variability.”

Festival films and dates:


Coco, May 3, 7 p.m. (Opening night also includes a wine reception from 6 p.m.–7 p.m.)

Elsa y Fred

Elsa y Fred, May 10, 7 p.m.

Finding Your Feet

Finding Your Feet, May 17, 7 p.m.

Alive Inside

Alive Inside, May 24, 7 p.m.

The Party

The Party, May 31, 7 p.m.

*Seating is first-come, first-served. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Click here, for more information.

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