Women Over 50 Film Festival

WOFFF and Virgin Atlantic partner to offer dementia-friendly cinema onboard Virgin flights

Virgin Atlantic has partnered with UK-based film festival Women Over 50 Film Festival to add dementia-friendly films to inflight entertainment

Virgin Atlantic and the Women Over 50 Film Festival (WOFFF) join forces this summer to create a more inclusive experience for passengers living with dementia and their families or carers.

Starting this month, a selection of short films from WOFFF filmmakers will be available as part of the inflight entertainment offer, Vera. 

The films have been specifically chosen, with input from UK charity Carers UK, to provide a relaxing experience for travellers living with dementia.

Nuala O’Sullivan, founder of WOFFF, who has worked with filmmakers to provide the short films, said, “We’re absolutely delighted to collaborate with Virgin Atlantic to improve the inflight experience for those living with dementia.

There are 944,000 people living with dementia in the UK and 55 million worldwide. It’s important that they aren’t excluded from participating in everyday life, pursuing hobbies or experiencing travel. 

By expanding their inflight entertainment to include specific films for people living with dementia, Virgin Atlantic is making the magic of cinema accessible to so many more people.”

WOFFF, known for celebrating the work of older women in the film industry with an annual film festival, also screens short films in care homes around the UK and has worked with Carers UK to develop the programme for Virgin Atlantic.

Micheal Shann of Carers UK said, “This is a fantastic initiative towards creating more inclusive environments for people living with dementia and their families. We worked with the team at WOFFF to review several of their short films and selected the ones we believe are most appropriate for those living with dementia. We also felt these films could be enjoyed by anyone, so they’re perfect for family members or carers to watch too.”

The films selected are gentle and engaging, using music and movement to convey the plotline, and they rely much less on dialogue than audiences might typically be used to. 

From Scottish Ballet’s relaxing dance film to a nature animation with soft, muted colours, all the films have been chosen for their ability to captivate and soothe.

The films, which have all previously been shown as part of the Women Over 50 Film Festival, will be available on Vera, Virgin Airline’s inflight entertainment, from June to December 2024.

Vera’s dementia-friendly short film selection:

Entitled, director Adeyemi Michael

Eulogy for the Dandelion, director Gloria Civantos

Haud Close Tae Me, director Eve McConnachie

The Honeys and Bears, director Veena Rao

Lay Me Low, director Marlene Millar

Old Mother Blackbird, director Sophie Bancroft

Swim, director Maike Mahira Koller

Walks With Me, director Kati Kallio

Sophie Bancroft, whose film Old Mother Blackbird is included in the project, said, “I am thrilled that my short film Old Mother Blackbird is part of this dementia-responsive programme. 

Inspired by an extraordinarily brave and loyal mother blackbird that set up nest in my garden in a wee village south of Edinburgh, Scotland, I’m thrilled to see her universal story of maternal love and family taking flight across the world.”

This dementia-friendly programme is thought to be the first on any inflight entertainment system in the world. The partnership coincides with Virgin Atlantic’s 40th birthday celebrations and reinforces its founding mission that everyone can take on the world.

Sharon Noyau, Manager – Inflight Entertainment Content at Virgin Atlantic, said, “We’re committed to enhancing the travel experience for all customers, and so being able to expand our entertainment options with these thoughtful and inclusive films is something we’re very proud of. We hope our dementia-friendly short film selection will bring joy and comfort to our customers living with dementia and their families as they travel with us.”