ACT’s first dementia-friendly day at the movies

For many people living with dementia, going to the movies is a way to participate more fully in social life, but it is often hard to find a cinema or a film that caters to viewers with dementia and their friends and family.

Three Australian film experts are developing guidelines and resources for dementia-friendly film screenings tailored for Australian cinemas and community groups to create more opportunities for people living with dementia to enjoy cinema.

They recently organised a dementia-friendly screening of the award-winning musical drama The Sapphires at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia in Canberra

Dementia Australia trained venue and event staff who welcomed guests and provided help when required.

The Dementia Friendly Screening team – Dr Jodi Brooks, University of New South Wales, Dr Fincina Hopgood, University of New England and Karina Libbey, National Film and Sound Archive of Australia – designed the event to offer more than just a film screening.

It included morning tea, a souvenir program and the opportunity to see one of the costumes from the film (worn by actress Deborah Mailman and on display in the theatre). 

The event incorporated dementia-friendly design principles, such as:

  • clear signage around the cinema,
  • a light morning tea at the venue for relaxed social connections,
  • soft lighting to assist people wanting to move around during the film,
  • a quiet room also playing the movie where people could go if they wanted a chat,
  • screening intermissions for drinks and fresh air,
  • movie snacks for a nostalgic cinema experience, and 
  • a souvenir program and polaroid photos as mementos of the event.

They planned and ran the Canberra movie day in consultation with the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing, Carers ACT, COTA and a carer of a person living with dementia.

Carers ACT also supported the event by providing complimentary tickets for carers. Thanks went to Juliette Spurrett, Kamla Brisbane, Jenny Mobbs, Sandra Simpson and the ACT government who provided funding.

The event was a resounding success and the Dementia Friendly Screening team have plans underway for another dementia-friendly screening in Armidale at the University of New England’s Belgrave Cinema.

Interested in what this could look like in your community? The first step is to become a Dementia Friend.

Find out more at or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.