Lives Well Lived: Filmmaker Sky Bergman Features the Secrets, Wisdom and Wit of Age

5 min
Evelyn Ricciuti, 103, cuts tomatoes in her kitchen. Her granddaughter, Sky Bergman, produced a documentary film inspired by Ricciuti's outlook on life.  (Courtesy of Sky Bergman)

Sky Bergman got the idea for her new documentary, "Lives Well Lived," from her visits with her grandmother, who was still going to the gym as she hit her 100th birthday. She began to collect the stories of other vibrant and dynamic elders, ending up with 40 interviews with seniors ranging in age from 75 to 100 years old, many of them Californians.

Bergman is a professor of photography at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and this is her first documentary feature. She talked this week with Sasha Khokha, host of The California Report Magazine. Here is some of the best wit and wisdom the seniors shared in the film.

“Being kind and being nice to people. No matter where you are and no matter what the situation. It always comes back to you," says Evelyn Ricciuti. "And that’s my philosophy of life, and I love every minute of it. I love life as it is. And that’s why I like to live. I want to live. I want to see more. And learn more.”

Emmy Cleaves, 86, has been practicing yoga for years. (Courtesy of Sky Bergman)

“I teach because I think it’s so important. It’s a passion. It’s an obsession. I want as many people to do yoga as possible because it is a priceless gift you can give to yourself. Health is really where everything is at. The quality of your life is completely governed by the state of your health. At my age, if I hadn’t done yoga, I’d probably be sitting here and be sad and tired.”

Blanche Brown, 78, teaches Afro-Haitian dance classes once a week in San Francisco. (Courtesy of Sky Bergman)

"Life goes by so quickly. Most young people are in such a hurry to get to the next part of their life or whatever they're doing. They don't take time to enjoy what's happening right now."

Lou Tedone, 92, makes fresh mozzarella from scratch every day for his family's deli. (Courtesy of Sky Bergman)

"Happiness is a state of mind. You can be happy with what you have, or miserable with what you don’t have. You decide."

Rose Ballestero, 80, is currently completing her PhD at USC. (Courtesy of Sky Bergman)

"No matter what age you are, learning never stops, you still keep learning."