Review: Lives Well Lived


If we knew the secret to being happy, would it change how we lived our lives? Sky Bergman, inspired by her grandmother who, at almost 100 years old still worked out, has made a film of interview responses to questions related to what might help us live in the now. Her very first question was, “What is your definition of a life well lived?”

During 40 additional interviews of people aged 75-100 years of age, Bergman also asks, “What is the one thing that people should not worry about? … What do you wish younger people understood about life?” as well as “What is the secret to happiness?” Bergman says, “My grandmother was my guide for how to gracefully move through life and how to age with dignity, strength, and humor. I began a quest to search out other people, who like my grandmother were living life to the limits.”

Are the answers of our elders similar, indicating a single path to enlightenment and fulfillment, or do their answers conflict with one another? Are they any different than how a 25-year-old might answer?

Bergman’s grandmother, Evelyn Ricciuti, reflects on these questions and responds that it’s important to be “endlessly engaged in whatever your passion is, doing things you like to do, setting a goal and achieving it, doing what you like to do and believe in and having friends that support you.”

Bergman sought advice and wisdom from a 92-year old retired pediatrician and the former wife, age 78, of a San Francisco mayor. She interviewed people who re-married late in life and people who have been alone for over 50 years. She talked to a dancer, yoga instructor, photographer, inspirational speaker, artist, sculptor and musician – yes, all present tense.These people are active, curious, and involved. They are not depressed. They have a sparkle and vitality. They are inspirational.

So what about Bergman’s ultimate question, “What is your secret to a happy life?” There are some surprising and yet still meaningful answers. The still-loyal-to-his-wife widowed pediatrician has one answer, and the red-headed, much loved red-headed bombshell has quite another. If we think about them deeply, are they similar or do they conflict?

Though Sky Bergman is an award-winning photographer with work in permanent collections in major museums, this is her first film. Currently, she is a professor of photography and video at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, CA.

“Lives Well Lived” is a joy to see. It opens in Los Angeles on April 20 at the Laemmle Monica Film Center, Town Center in Encino and Playhouse 7 in Pasadena.


Producer/Director: Sky Bergman
Associate Producers: Gaye Force and Catherine Trujillo
Editor: Randi Barros

Dr. Lou Tedone, 92
Emmy Cleaves, age 86
Bob Cleaves, 84
Rose Ballestero, 80
Susy Eto Bauman, 95
Blanche Brown, 78
Evy Justesen, 81
Santi Visalli, 81
Wachtang, Korisheli, 92
Ciel Bergman, 76
Dr. Edward Okun, 82
Marion Wolff, 84
Dr. Paul Wolff,
Evely Ricciuti, 103
William abel, 85
Doris Achterkirchen, 97
Jesse Alexander, 85
Dr. Herbert Bergman, 75
Irene Devin, 90
Barbara Dreyfuss, 91 eyeshadow
Brenda Edelson, 75
Dorothy Ellis, 76

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