Our Q&A with Film Director Julia Warr who became an artist in her 40's. Her film shown here, shot in Fire Island, New York, captures the secrets of of Maia Helles, a Russian ballet dancer turned 95 who still remains resolutely independent, healthy and happy. Julia met Maia on a plane 9 years ago and became utterly convinced by the benefits of Maia's daily exercise routine, which Maia perfected together with her mother, over 60 years ago, long before exercise classes were ever invented.

Can you tell our readers a bit about who you are?

I am a woman artist, I finished my art degree at age 40. I was also a fashion model, industrial catering manager, producer/director for BBC/Channel 4 and mother to 3 children.

Can you tell us a bit about your role in this project/your motivation for making it.

I hadn’t made a film for 16 years, and hadn’t intended to make another, but when I met Maia and we became friends I felt compelled to pick up a camera again. We travelled to Fire Island together and made ‘My Friend Maia’ in one day, just us. Lola Perrin kindly gave me permission to use her piano composition and I edited the film too.

Has this project changed how you view age?

No, it hasn’t. My grandmother taught me by example that age doesn’t matter. I think Maia reminds me of her. Remaining curious defines them both.

Do you think how old you are today, is relevant to how you think about yourself and why?

Every new day we are one day older, and no one can prepare you for that. I am much more aware of what my body and mind needs to feel good than when I was younger. If that’s a benefit of ageing, getting older is an advantage.

Do you think how old you are today, changes how people think about you and why?

That’s a very good question. I am still exploring new ideas of my own, and this is similar to the younger artists, dancers and actors I meet, so I don’t find age is a barrier, no.

Is there a difference between people who know you and people who you have just met? Could you give us an example?

"Every new day we are one day older, and no one can prepare you for that. I am much more aware of what my body and mind needs to feel good than when I was younger. If that’s a benefit of ageing, getting older is an advantage."

Julia Warr.

I like this question. I have had the same partner for over 30 years and we have many of the same friends, who live all over and do all kinds of jobs, but I think my more recent friends are younger than us and mainly artists/dancers or actors. I didn’t start practicing art until later in life, I think that’s why.

What is the biggest stress in your life at the moment? Does this have anything to with how old you are?

Life balance is my biggest stress, like everyone. It has nothing to do with my age. If anything I know how to manage it a little better, with age.

What do you think are the biggest challenges we share across all ages?

Making a living is the biggest challenge, and with enough time left to look after our bodies and feed our imagination.

What can you learn from people who are older?

Maia always said she needed to exercise more as she got older, not less. I think she is right. The benefits daily of exercise and movement outweigh the monotony of it.

What can you learn from people who are younger?

I am constantly flattered when a young person finds me relevant enough to talk about their work with me and even collaborate. I’ve been included in improvisational performances with twenty year olds. It’s refreshing to be around bodies which are moving in their prime. Their range and ability to just ‘go for it’ inspires me.

What do you think is the benefit of a society where our age does not define us?

The benefit would be that more people over 58 years of age would remain solvent! They would not only be defined by but be less inclined to limit themselves by virtue of their age.

"I am still exploring new ideas of my own, and this is similar to the younger artists, dancers and actors I meet, so I don’t find age is a barrier, no."

Julia Warr.

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