There is a Place (2017)

Tania Ku’s documentary short focuses on Lior Tsarfaty, an Israeli-born singer/songwriter who offers music therapy sessions for Alzheimer’s patients at San Francisco-area memory care facilities. Arriving with a guitar and a suitcase full of instruments, he quickly brings his audience into a circle of music-minded participants, with exercises ranging from Native American-style tribal drumming to a sing-along of old favorites like “You Are My Sunshine.”

Working at 15 to 20 venues per week, Tsarfaty acknowledges the emptiness brought in the passing of patients, yet he also chronicles their joy in hearing about his experience of becoming a new father. Ku’s film captures the energy and enthusiasm that the patients undergo during a Tsarfaty session, with several individuals playfully hamming for the camera with their instruments.

His presence is also a joyful distraction from the physical and emotional difficulty that the patients endure. One elderly man laments on how he struggles to get through each new day, but later takes a moment to praise Tsarfaty’s instruments in observing, “That suitcase does a lot of magic.”

At a very brief 17-minute length, “There is a Place” offers a perfectly formed consideration of one very special individual and the immeasurable happiness he brings with his songs. It offers more heart and soul than most full-length films.