See Memory

An artist explores the science of memory through the lens of art. (PBS Broadcast Premiere, Spring 2024)
Year Released
Film Length(s)
15 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


An artist explores the intimate nature of memory, the science of remembering and the experience of PTSD, in SEE MEMORY, a 15-minute film made out of 30,000 hand painted stills. Director, Viviane Silvera, has gone inside the neuroscience labs of McGill, Columbia University and Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine to explore the ways in which memory hurts and heals. Accompanied by insightful interviews with neuroscientists, psychiatrists, including NobelLaureate Eric Kandel, the film unveils the purpose and intricate processes underlying the act of remembering.

Featured review

"See Memory is a stunning dramatization of the complexity and emotional power of human memory. In a visual and narrative journey that is as haunting as it is insightful, the film offers nothing short than an entirely new way of imagining memory, trauma, presentness, and emotional experience. Its beauty is matched only by its brilliance. See Memory should be required viewing."
R. John Williams
Associate Professor, English, Film and Media, Yale University


SYNOPSISSEE MEMORY’s protagonist is a young woman walking through Central Park on a winter’s day. She is alone and disconnected, lost within the world of her suffering, unable to decipher reality from dream. She enters therapy and gradually connects with her therapist, who bears witness to her story. She leaves therapy and reenters Central Park, transformed by the experience of having shared her story. Walking through the same landscape, everything looks and feels completely different.

WHY WATCH? Memory is the building block of our lives linking one action to the next. The links provide continuity and become the story we tell of how we became who we are. Disruptions in memory, such as PTSD, trauma and mental disorders, can prevent us from building our lives with continuity and coherence. The past interrupts the present as if it is still happening.

SEE MEMORY intends to give voice to the experience of deciphering disrupted, fragmented, relentless or missing memories through a unifying lens of Art and Science. Drawing on interviews with top neuroscientists and psychiatrists, SEE MEMORY uses stop action photography of the director, Viviane Silvera’s hand painted work to explore memory in a way that is both scientifically rigorous and visually striking. The film's interdisciplinary approach offers fresh insights on the crucial human experience of memory and ultimately empowers us to become creators of our futures rather than being bound by our pasts.

SEE MEMORY had the privilege of premiering at the Imagine Science Film Festival and since its release has screened at institutions such as The Helix Center, The Friedman Brain Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Contributors to the film include renowned researchers such as Nobel Laureate, Eric Kandel, and Director of the Schiller Lab at Mount Sinai, Daniela Schiller.


- Downloadable comprehensive 110 - page DISCUSSION GUIDE

- Downloadable MEMORY CALENDAR

- Downloadable MEDIA KIT

- 17 CHAPTERS from the film focusing on subtopics related to memory and healing from trauma.

For information on how to host a panel and screening email


"As a neuroscientist who studies how emotional memories are represented in the human brain, I was thoroughly impressed by the film's insights about the dynamics and subtleties of memories, and I was deeply moved by the artful way these ideas were expressed. The filmmaker was able to express scientific concepts and biological mechanisms of memory using art. During the last decade there has been tremendous interest in the science of memory, particularly in light of new discoveries on the biology of memory storage and retrieval, which may allow modifying traumatic memories. See Memory expresses these ideas in a very intuitive and artistic way."

Daniela Schiller, Phd
Director of the Schiller Lab, Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine
"The insights that are offered are both powerful and meaningful. I felt those insights washing over me like the different watercolor paintings as they flashed on the screen. This is a lovely presentation of profound ideas that are exceedingly difficult to explore in any medium, including film. The real genius of this film is a clever way of framing what are very profound statements, narrated in a careful, thoughtfully-paced way, against the backdrop of changing watercolor images."
Film Screener
D.C Shorts Film Festival
"New York City artist uses 10,000 painting stills to create animated film about the mind."
The title was inspired by Oliver Sacks’ article "Speak, Memory" and narration is based on interviews with neuroscientists and psychiatrists, including Nobelist Eric Kandel.
"Silvera puts memory into motion"
Nicole Teitler
Writer, Dan's Papers
"One memorable project
Arts & Living
27 East
It is truly a magnificent piece, “beautiful, ethereal, dreamlike.”
Simon Fortin
Lecturer, New York University
One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. A real experience.
Dr.Paul Browde
Dr. Paul Browde, Columbia University, School of Professional Studies
Brilliant, incredibly profound and so beautiful
Jill Eikenberry
Actor and Producer
"The response has been outstanding. The film facilitates discussion about memory and the impact of both physical and psychological trauma on memory in a very humanistic and personal way. It allows viewers to reflect on and share their personal experiences. The film opens the door to understanding the science of memory and it promotes an understanding of personal trauma and equally important an understanding about the important role of the community in helping victims of trauma through their healing process. "
Silvana Riggio
Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Rehabilitation, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Awards and Screenings

PBS Television Premiere Spring 2024
Edward Hopper House & Museum Award of Excellence
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Friedman Brain Institute
National Streaming on Spring 2024
Mental Film-ness Film Festival
Awareness Film Festival
Viten Film Festival
Blow Up Chicago Art House Film Festival
Big Apple Film Festival
Altspace VR Scenes & Screens Film Festival

Director Commentary

I was born and raised in Hong Kong where I lived until I was 10. I then moved to Brazil for 5 years before landing in New York at the age of 15. My Hong Kong memories are often out of my reach. If memory is the story we tell of how we became who we are, who are you if your memories are not within your grasp? I set out to make See Memory to come to terms with my own fraught relationship to memory.

“Speak Memory” by neurologist Oliver Sacks, explores his childhood memories as a melding of his experiences and things he heard or read about. Emotion is the strongest encoder of memory. If you hear a story that triggers a strong emotion, you may absorb pieces of it as your own. Sacks explains that neurologically, there is no way to decipher experienced memory from imagined memory. I wanted to find out more. In interviews with psychiatrists and neuroscientists I asked - How do we remember and why do we remember?

I made See Memory with the belief that the need to understand memory and how it shapes who we are is universal. The film combines art and science, giving a vivid and visceral experience of what it is to remember and be haunted as well as enriched by our memories.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • Director's Commentary
  • Transcript

Film/Audio Languages

  • English

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • English

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Resources for Educators

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