22nd Calgary Underground Film Festival

April 17-27, 2025

12th CUFF.Docs Documentary Film Festival

November 20-24, 2024

Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory

USA, 2014: 74 minutes: International Premiere
Archives 2014
In Cinema Globe Cinema
Thu, Apr 10 7:30 PM Buy
Sat, Apr 12 2:30 PM Buy


As dementia continues to affect millions of elderly Americans, Alive Inside reveals a remarkable, music-based breakthrough that has already transformed lives. Spearheaded by social worker Dan Cohen and captured on camera over the course of three years by filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett, we learn that songs from a patient’s past can awaken memories and emotions that have been asleep for years, sometimes decades. Within a moment of hearing “I Get Around” by The Beach Boys, Alzheimer’s patient Marylou jolts back to life, dancing around the living room and expressing a euphoria her husband hasn’t witnessed since her illness took effect. Countless instances in Alive Inside provide proof that music stimulates activity in dementia-affected parts of the brain and transforms the quality of life of those often left to languish in silence.

Through revealing conversations with renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks and musician Bobby McFerrin, as well as powerful firsthand experiments conducted by Cohen in nursing homes, this groundbreaking documentary demonstrates how connecting the elderly to the music they love not only combats memory loss but also supplements a broken health-care system often indifferent to interpersonal connections. – Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival 2014

press for Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory

"A gloriously inspirational film documenting music’ s healing power"
- The Hollywood Reporter


Documentary / Music / Award at CUFF

74 minutes


Director, Writer, Producer:
Michael Rossato-Bennett

Alexandra McDougald, Barry Cole, Jonathan Clasberry




WINNER: Audience Award, Best Documentary Feature - CUFF 2014

Winner, Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Sundance Film Festival 2014

Presenting Partner

Community Partners