I have always been drawn to stories of the human connections that define us, an interest reflected in my work both as a photojournalist and a documentary filmmaker. The death of my mother and the arrival of my AARP card led me to examine the most fundamental human connection of all – to life itself. My natural instinct and my southern California lifestyle demanded more life, longer life, younger life. Somewhere between the hyperbaric chamber and the cryonic pod, I began to fully appreciate the complexity of the issue.
When I set out to make a documentary featuring some of the world's oldest people, I knew that counting on them to do publicity tours three years later might not be too realistic. The recent deaths of Jack LaLanne, age 96, and Britain's oldest working man Buster Martin, age 104, remind us that, for the time being, we can't live forever. I'm so grateful for the time they spent with me, and for the life lessons they gave which I'm able to share with audiences through the film. On the surface, these men were polar opposites -- Jack was a fitness and health food evangelist, Buster was an enthusiastic drinker of beer and unrepentant chain-smoker. At their core, however, they shared an unwavering drive to live life to the fullest, in the moment, each on his own terms.
There was something exquisitely moving about being in the presence of all my elderly subjects. These were people who'd lived through turbulent times and faced great adversity, yet no matter where they were or what their background, they all shared remarkable grace, humor, and resilience. My previous films examined the mysteries of identity, love, and family. Making How To Live Forever allowed me to connect those lessons to the ultimate question of what makes a life truly meaningful.
- Mark Wexler