THE OLDEST PERSON IN THE WORLD is an innovative documentary project that weaves together portraits of the people who hold the Guinness Record for being the oldest person alive, serving as a meditation on time and the poignancy of being alive.
A few years ago, Sam Green made a film about Guinness World Record holders. THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS premiered at Sundance in 2014 featuring all sorts of records: the person with the longest name, the tallest man. But the record that fascinated Sam most was the record for being the oldest person in the world.
It's a record that changes frequently; one super old person dies and the title goes to a slightly younger super old person. While screening THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS in 2014 and 2015, Sam needed to update it a number of times. As he did, it struck Sam that the record says a great deal about who we are: about fate, mortality, and the knowledge and experiences that will be lost forever as time passes and the world moves inexorably forward.
Local reporters interview the oldest person in their community, asking them their secret to longevity and attributing it to a daily shot of whiskey, a plucky attitude, or their love for God. But there is something profound that is not being addressed. The media hype is as much about our celebration of life as it is about our anxiety about what time does to our bodies, our minds, and our relevance. This one person embodies so much of the tragedy, beauty, and mystery of being alive.
Sam and the team are going to film each individual who becomes the oldest person in the world from here on out. In four or five years – or when we have the footage we need to make a film – we will edit the material and begin screening it. But we will continue to shoot and, with each new oldest person in the world, we will incorporate that footage. The form will mirror both the fleeting and provisional nature of our lives as well as the fact that the only way to become the oldest person in the world is to allow time to pass – and to persist. It will be a life work, a never-ending project that will be screened for years to come.