Critics and viewers agree: The Alzheimer’s Project documentary series is television worth watching. The four-part film series, co-presented by HBO Documentary Films and NIA/NIH in association with the Alzheimer’s Association, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, and the Geoffrey Beene Gives Back Alzheimer’s Initiative, has reached millions of viewers, won a Television Critics Award  for Outstanding Achievement in News and Information, and garnered two Emmy® awards for nonfiction programming.
The Alzheimer’s Project promises to enhance public awareness and understanding of research and care related to Alzheimer’s for some time to come. Offered free to millions of viewers by HBO and other participating television service providers when it debuted on May 10-12, 2009, the documentaries can now be viewed free on the HBO Web site , YouTube, and iTunes. The HBO site offers a wealth of free educational and outreach resources, including supplemental videos and a video glossary, as well as links to NIA and other research and support organizations. The 15 supplemental films  posted to the HBO site provide a more in-depth look at research, while another 18 supplemental  films geared toward the scientific community are hosted on the Alzheimer’s Research Forum Web site.
“Our goal was to make The Alzheimer’s Project available to audiences on their own terms and in their preferred medium, so they could view the presentations at their own pace,” said John Hoffman, vice president of HBO Documentary Films. DVDs of the four centerpiece films and selected supplemental films are available to the public, as is a companion book developed by the researchers, focusing on scientific discovery in the field.
The collaborators sought to bring viewers into the laboratories and clinics of some of the nation’s leading researchers, as well as into the lives of those living with or caring for someone with the disease. “The Alzheimer's research community welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with HBO, seeking to raise new awareness and understanding of this devastating disease," says Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the National Institute on Aging, the component of the National Institutes of Health leading the Federal Alzheimer's disease research program. "There is a compelling story to tell of scientific discovery, of research advances and challenges, and of the human faces behind the disease."
Outreach began even before the films premiered, when some 6,000 free screening kits containing DVDs of all four films and outreach materials were sent to community organizations in all 50 states. Many NIA-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Centers (ADCs) hosted special public screening events, along with discussion groups including Center scientists. Most ADCs have also posted links to The Alzheimer’s Project on their Web sites.
One unique aspect of the project is its outreach to a whole new audience: kids. One of the four main films— the Emmy-winning “GRANDPA DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” WITH MARIA SHRIVER—tells the story of children and teens who are coping with a grandparent suffering from the disease. Maria Shriver, First Lady of California and a self-described “child of Alzheimer’s,” provides commentary and delivers valuable "lessons" for the kids. Community screenings of this film have been held at Boys and Girls Clubs, YWCAs, and YMCAs.
The Alzheimer Project’s other major films are: THE MEMORY LOSS TAPES, which won an Emmy award for its chronicling of the experiences of seven people living with Alzheimer’s; Emmy-nominated MOMENTUM IN SCIENCE, the story of scientific discovery that takes viewers inside the laboratories and clinics of 25 leading scientists and physicians; and CAREGIVERS, focusing on the lives of five people caring for their loved ones with the disease. The series producer was John Hoffman; the executive producers were Sheila Nevins and Maria Shriver.
The Alzheimer’s Research Forum hosts 18 short films that provide additional perspectives on, and in-depth scientific discussion of, a broad range of topics in Alzheimer’s disease research, beyond the material broadcast by the main Alzheimer's Project.
Also recommended: Inside the Brain: Unraveling the Mystery of Alzheimer’s Disease , a new animated video now available on the ADEAR Web site. The 4-minute captioned video shows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain and the impact on brain cells. Inside the Brain is a companion to Alzheimer’s Disease: Unraveling the Mystery , which is available to view, download, or order from the ADEAR Center.