My Name is Julius
This short documentary focuses on the final year in the life of Julius Barthoff, a remarkable man who lived 100 years without ever slowing down. Julius had profound hearing loss, the result of contracting diphtheria as an infant. Through Julius's life experiences, the film tells a story about deafness, disability, and aging in the United States. The film shows Julius at 99 and 100 years old, a lively, vibrant, and warm man deeply engaged with the world around him. We see that Julius's outlook on life, his forms of social engagement, and his everyday activities are deeply affected by his hearing disability. A widower, Julius lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment in a senior citizen building, as independent and curious about the world as ever. He spends his day distributing the newspapers that are delivered to his building, communicating with friends from all over the world via email, and doing what he can to improve the lives of his fellow senior citizens.
NTSC format, 17 minutes. In English with English subtitles.
Titi Yu is a producer, director and cinematographer based in New York. Titi has produced documentaries for PBS, HBO, NBC, History Channel and PBS. Her documentaries have garnered the prestigious Gracie Award and the Headliner Award. Titi’s most recent project is with renowned Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., on his critically acclaimed series Faces of America. Titi was a producer on Michael Moore’s documentary Capitalism, a love story. In 2007, she had the privilege of working with legendary documentary filmmaker Bill Moyers on his Emmy Award documentary Buying the War. Titi began her career at Frontline where she worked with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith on an investigative documentary on tax shelters. Titi holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania in International Relations and a MA in Visual and Media Arts from Emerson College.
Caitrin Lynch, Ph.D., is a cultural anthropologist who first met Julius when doing research for a book about aging, retirement, and work in the United States. The book is entitled Retirement on the Line: Age, Work, and Value in an American Factory. It is a study of Vita Needle Company, a family-owned factory outside of Boston that targets senior citizens for employment (the eldest worker is 100). Caitrin is Professor of Anthropology at Olin College of Engineering. She is the author of Juki Girls, Good Girls: Gender and Cultural Politics in Sri Lanka’s Global Garment Industry.
Praise for My Name is Julius
Comments from two college students: "My Name is Julius" provides great insight into the effects that stigmatizing based on disability can have on a person and the strength and determination it takes to overcome such a stigma. We found it thought provoking when Julius made the point about being with a group of people yet feeling alone because you cannot hear or participate fully in the conversation. It is difficult to think of someone feeling lonely within a social setting, but that was exactly what he was experiencing. It was great to see Julius still so active and helpful at 100! Delivering the newspapers with all of the bending and carrying involved is a great example of what we all want to be still capable of throughout our own aging processes. We loved Julius’s great attitude towards everything and were impressed at how active he stayed so late in life.
The film was wonderful. I keep thinking about it - so touching, moving, thought provoking -- so much to talk and think about and on so many topics - the elderly, generations, deafness, disability, discrimination, inclusion/exclusion, relationships - the list goes on and on. The film leaves you really really wanting more - wanting to know Julius better, know how he became the wonderful person that he was - how he worked through the big challenges he faced. And I'm hoping that one thing the film will do for people is enhance their appreciation of the elderly. I've had wonderful grandparents and other elderly people in my life whom I've adored and treasured and I think people all too often dismiss the elderly as inconsequential. Julius is a treasure. In leaving the film wanting to know more of Julius I hope that many people also feel an increased desire to know, love and learn from the elderly gems that are still in our midst.
Congratulations on completing "My Name is Julius." You should be very proud of your accomplishment. I was especially struck by the way that you and Julius communicated the importance of "inclusion." I saw it when he spoke about wearing the hearing aid to high school and the kids calling him deaf and dumb... I saw it when he sat with his neighbors but was not part of the conversation and sharing. He very eloquently stated that what he wanted was to be included and I believe that is an important message that needs to be communicated regarding any disability.
I was so deeply touched by your film "My Name is Julius." [Julius's] courage, and philosophy on life had such a profound effect on me. Despite having a disability - hearing loss, he got an education, had a family, a career, and tried to make this a better place for others.... I sometimes get discouraged and frustrated regarding communication issues due to my hearing loss. Julius was an inspiration, and his positive spirit grounds me. I felt that key issues were emphasized in this film on aging and hearing loss, among them social isolation. This is a powerful film and should be seen and used as an educational tool for the general public. Thank you for producing a wonderful film, I hope to be able to see it again!
I really enjoyed the movie about Julius. He seemed to be a person many in the audience would have wanted to get to know. The general idea of old people feeling so alone is so sad; in Julius' case this might seem more sad since his intelligence, education, and wit was not enough to overcome the emotions related to the loss of his wife and society's dependence on hearing. My uncle is in his 90s and he has gone blind. As a former book editor and once-voracious editor, his loss of vision has been devastating for him. Perhaps the loss of any of the senses which we all depend upon so much impacts us when we lose them and realize our/society's dependence on what we no longer have. Isn't that what Joni Mitchell sung about? Strange to think about how aging is first a rapid gaining of knowledge and capabilities and then an increasingly rapid loss.
Comments from members of a medical school audience: I will make sure I’m looking at patients while talking, along with the light source behind me; I will look at more options to assist hearing impaired patients; ... gave me better awareness of communicating with hearing impaired and their access to the hearing world; Reminded me of correct techniques for interacting with hearing impaired patients; reminder to do a good deed every day like Julius; ... showed all disciplines how vital it is for our patients to need to connect with their community and to stay active for health and well-being.
This viewer’s guide is intended to help teachers and others who offer screenings of My Name is Julius. The guide will facilitate discussions related to the film, and it includes sections on four different themes that facilitators might wish to focus on: Hearing Loss, Aging, Isolation, and Community Service
Each section contains a series of prompts for independent writing or discussions. Some questions are directed towards specific audiences (such as people who have a hearing loss, school-age children, or older adults), and the facilitator can choose questions appropriate for the particular audience.
The guide also includes a glossary (words indicated by underlining) and suggestions on further resources.
We are continuously improving this Viewers’ Guide for My Name is Julius. If you have questions, comments, and/or suggestion for improvement, please contact us.
To purchase a copy of the film, please send a check for $25 per DVD to Caitrin Lynch, Olin College, Needham, MA 02492. Please make the check out to "Caitrin Lynch." (Non-U.S. orders, please include funds for postage.)
The film has screened at film festivals, schools, community events, and conferences to great success. Producer Caitrin Lynch is happy to attend screenings and lead discussions.