Not to Forget

More than 6 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with the memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s dementia today, but a new movie by filmmaker and Las Vegas Host Lion Valerio Zanoli focuses on the caregivers, whose tedious and exhausting work is often forgotten.

NOT TO FORGET movie posterCaregivers often face health crises of their own after living with the stress of caring for loved ones for years, often coupled with full-time jobs and caring for children as well.

In his movie “Not to Forget,” Zanoli takes the focus off the Alzheimer’s patient and turns it instead on a young caregiver.

“This is a tribute to caregivers because caregivers are the unsung heroes,” he says. “They act out of pure love.”

Relatively new to the world of Lions, Zanoli has seen that “Lions are the caregivers of the community.”

“One thing they taught me when I joined the club (in 2021) is that we are supposed to have the heart of a lion. We should always be Lions,” he says. “When we serve one person, a loved one or a stranger on the street, it’s a big deal because it can have an impact.”

Now out on multiple platforms, his movie tells the story of a millennial who doesn’t know anything about Alzheimer’s but finds his self-absorbed life changed when he goes to court charged with petty crimes. The judge (Olympia Dukakis) assigns him to care for his grandma who lives in the country. Grandma (Karen Grassle from the TV drama “Little House on the Prairie”) is suffering through the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t remember him.

Italian-born Zanoli learned early on in his Catholic school about the importance of caring for others and doing it quietly. As a young man, he cared for his mother, a social worker who fought cancer for seven years. When she died he decided to make movies to make a difference and to carry on her legacy.

“Movies could and should make a difference,” he says. That’s why he created the project to produce films that raise awareness and funds for important causes including childhood cancer, eating disorders, and bullying.

Valerio ZanoliAt 18, Zanoli left Italy to make movies in California, later moving on to Las Vegas, where as a real estate investor he became interested in helping the homeless. He created a network of landlords willing to work with individuals nobody else wanted to house, eventually helping hundreds of families.

“His contribution to society was already outstanding, but it was encouraged and furthered even more after he joined our club and was inspired to give and serve even more,” says Marlon Call, president of the Las Vegas Host club. “He once asked me, ‘If we don’t help, who else will?’ And he is absolutely right.”

Zanoli says he is especially proud to join his club in helping the Las Vegas Rescue Mission by cooking and serving food for the people they temporarily house.

His film was shot in 2019 before he became a Lion, but his fellow Lions were excited about the project and have helped spread the word and raise awareness.

Zanoli joined their club, he says, because he began to feel like he couldn’t make a difference always working on his own. “I wanted to be inspired by other people who had the same mission and be in the same room to think with others about ways to make a difference.

“I love to clean glasses. I love to cut vegetables at the homeless shelter. I really enjoy doing service with other people who are just like me. The one thing that makes us all the same is that we all want to serve, and we all want to do good,” Zanoli says. “It pushes me forward.”

He also likes to bring guests to Lion meetings, he says, hoping to connect people who are trying to improve their community.

Through this latest film, Zanoli connected five Oscar winning actors: Tatum O’Neal, Louis Gossett Jr., George Chakiris, Olympia Dukakis, and Cloris Leachman. For Dukakis and Leachman it was their final film. Zanoli had approached each about taking part in his film and each saw the importance behind the message. In their frail state – Leachman was confined to a wheelchair and Dukakis, for whom he moved the filming from Kentucky to New York, wanted to assist in sending the message about Alzheimer’s and the reminder not to forget or fail to support the loved ones who care for others.

Zanoli’s next film about homelessness is expected out before year’s end.