Lisa Shaw impact mosaic

Cinema, Memory & Wellbeing

Lisa Shaw is a Reader in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. Her research covers Brazilian cultural history and popular culture. She recently organised a film club at the Lar Sao Joao de Deus nursing home in the town of Itaipava in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Challenge

Professor Lisa Shaw has used her interest, research and expertise in Brazilian culture to create a programme of activities designed to encourage emotional wellbeing in older people, especially those living with dementia.

Lisa's research interests lie primarily in Brazilian cultural history and popular culture, and she is the author of monographs on Brazilian popular music (The Social History of the Brazilian Samba, Ashgate, 1999), cinema (Popular Cinema in Brazil, 1930s-2001, Manchester UP, 2004 and Brazilian National Cinema, Routledge, 2007, both co-authored with Stephanie Dennison), and film stardom (Carmen Miranda, British Film Institute/Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

More recently her work has focused on early-twentieth-century popular theatre in the city of Rio de Janeiro, how popular performance in Brazil’s then capital engaged in trans-Atlantic and inter-American circuits and exchanges, and how the latter inflected the performance of ‘racial’ identity on stage. She was awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship in 2011 that enabled her to carry out the archival research for her latest monograph, Tropical Travels: Brazilian Popular Performance, Transnational Encounters and the Construction of Race (Texas UP, 2018).

Keen to find a use for her large collection of Brazilian musical comedy films from the 1950s and Hollywood movies starring Carmen Miranda, and motivated by her father’s experiences of living with dementia, Lisa has been developing a ‘Cinema, memory and wellbeing’ project over the last four years.

Lisa Shaw Cinema Memory Wellbeing Service Users

Research Action

Initially funded by a University of Liverpool Knowledge Exchange Voucher, and later by ODA Research Seed Funding, as well as support from National Museums Liverpool’s HOP (Happy Older People) network, Lisa has organised interactive screenings of short film clips in care homes and community settings across Merseyside and in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Working in Partnership

Lisa has begun a partnership with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust that will take the form of a weekly film club in a specialist dementia ward in a north Liverpool hospital, as well as training volunteers at the Trust’s Life Rooms in Southport, a centre for learning, recovery, health and wellbeing. She also partnered with a residential nursing home, the Lar São João de Deus in the town of Itaipava, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she conducted a 5-week research project that centred on a weekly film club.

Outputs and Outcomes

Lisa’s work has explored how short excerpts of films, featuring music, recognisable stars and locations, and narrative sequences, can stimulate reminiscence, interaction and improved emotional wellbeing among older people, including those living with a dementia diagnosis. She has also developed best-practice toolkits in English and Portuguese so that care professionals and volunteers can learn how to run similar ‘Cinema, memory and wellbeing’ events themselves.

Lisa Shaw Cinema Memory Wellbeing Service Users

‘It reawakened my emotional memory of a distant past’

Fazenda Inglesa Family Health Practice service user.

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