One Subject – Five Formats

Mental decay distances dementia patients from their personality and their memories. They slowly lose touch with their surroundings and those around them become strangers – a painful experience for loved ones and spouses. For caregivers, the situation presents numerous challenges. Now Paro, a controversial new therapeutic robot, is touching dementia patients' hearts by stimulating petting and conversation. Can it open up new paths of communication to the silenced patients? Or is the cuddly animal with the computer heart merely opening the doors for unreflected implementation in nursing homes?

"Squeeze me!" is a crossmedia project by Bremen-based journalist and filmmaker Annette Wagner, alias awa crossmedia produktionen, in collaboration with ZDF/arte and filmtank Berlin. It meshes five traditional and new media formats into a multi-media appeal to people of all ages to cast aside their fears of dementia and consider the pros and cons of thereapeutic robot treatment in nursing homes.

The five formats: a 50-minute television documentary and interactive website are being produced for the Franco-German broadcaster arte. awa crossmedia has also collaborated with selected creative partners to develop and produce an entertaining online game; a Facebook debate page for families, caregivers and other interested people; as well as a photography exhibit of striking portraits of dementia patients.

The crossmedia project "Squeeze Me!" brings a taboo subject into the public eye. It is not easy to take one's spouse or parents, grandmother or great aunt by the arm when they have drifted off into another world. But this is when they need someone to 'squeeze' them more than ever.

The Film

The scholarly documentary "Squeeze Me – Can Cuddling Computers Be Therapists?" examines the weal and woe of the Japanese robot seal Paro, which has unleashed a controversial debate about emotional robotics in geriatric care in Europe. Annette Wagner follows dementia patients, their families and caregivers at the Bremen nursing home 'Haus O'land' as they introduce the therapeutic robot Paro into the daily routine at the nursing home. She also observes the scientific and ethical discourse currently taking place in Denmark, Japan, France and Germany. to the united docs film information

The Debate

A therapeutic robot like Paro is bound to raise questions and initiate discussion about new treatment methods in nursing homes and ways of coping with the increasing number of dementia patients. The Facebook page, which was created during the film shoot, has quickly become a digital marketplace for caregivers, families and others interested in the topic. Some have expressed their concerns and advice, while others have hotly debated one of the most critical socio-political challenges facing our society: how to age with dignity. the debatte

The Game

Gutsy players step up! The online game 'Cuddly Toy Sofa' invites Internet users of all ages to take a stand: "I also have – and need – a cuddly toy." Upload a photo of your favourite cuddly toy and write a brief text about how your 'toy' provides you comfort and joy. Read other people's sofa stories. This entertaining mini-game for players of all ages reveals the deep human need for attention: "Hold me! Squeeze me!" the game

The Photography Exhibition

Bremen-based photographer Cindi Jacobs has created moving portraits of people suffering from dementia. Twelve life-sized images with incisive quotes from patients, family members and caregivers are part of a traveling open-air exhibit, which draws dementia patients out of nursing homes and into the public eye. A 'passing' encounter which inspires contemplation: on town squares, in pedestrian zones, at consumer trade shows, and in football stadiums. Photography Exhibition PDF

The Interactive Website

Look, listen, read, research: A visually attractive, multiple perspective pool of information encourages users to playfully immerse themselves in this hotly debated topic. It contains journalistic film and photo sequences, reading tips and reference links which provide profound insight into the ethical and scientific issues and the daily life of caregivers, dementia patients and their families. the Interactive Website



Fr. 16.09.2011, 21:50 Uhr auf arte
Broadcast premiere of the documentary "Squeeze Me! Can Cuddling Computers Be Therapists?"
The film can be watched for free for seven days following the broadcast at


Sat. 10.09.2011 - So. 18.09.2011
Messe HanseLife, Bremen
Photography exhibition "People with Dementia" by Cindi Jacobs
Messe Bremen, 10:00 - 18:00 Uhr
Additional information:

Lectures & Workshops

Sat. 08.10.2011
34th Autumn Meeting of Women in Media ARD / ZDF in Leipzig (in German)
"Record the Digital Marketplace!“ Journalistic crossmedia workshop with Annette Wagner
Additional information:

Thurs. 24.11.2011
16th Forum "Digital Assistents in Caregiving" in Hannover
"Squeeze Me! – A Crossmedia Project"
Lecture by Annette Wagner (in German)
Academy of Sports, Hannover
Additional information:

Additional dates

Thurs., 15.09.2011, 9:00 – 10:00 Uhr, NDR / Radio Bremen – Nordwestradio
Interview with Annette Wagner during the programme "Conversation Time" ("Gesprächszeit")
Additional information:


  • Annette Wagner (Produzentin crossmedia)
  • Saskia Kress (Produzentin Doku)
  • Susanne Mertens (ZDF/arte)
  • Nadja Röll (arte online)
  • Anett Sager (arte)
  • Matthias Kind (Kamera Doku)
  • Nils Kacirek (Komposition)
  • Nora Ambun-Suri (Produktionsassistenz)
  • Roman Vehlken (Mischung)
  • Ruth Reeh-Georgi (Ton)
  • Talke Ahrendt (PR)
  • Torsten Truscheit (Schnitt)
  • Cindi Jacobs (Fotografie)
  • Eike Bartsch (Schnitt Webvideos)
  • Nadine Klöver (Web Design)
  • Lorenz Potthast (Flash)
  • Björn von Thülen (Programming)
  • Steffen Rühlmann (Flash/Programming)
  • Maja Maria Liebau (Texte)
  • Ria Pietzner (Kamera Web)
  • Martin Kittsteiner (Minigame Kuscheltiersofa)
  • Tini Pittasch & Jens Schulz (Design Ausstellung + Print)
  • Rick Minnich (Translation English


awa | crossmedia produktionen
Annette Wagner
Humboldtstraße 3, 28203 Bremen
Mobile: +49 170.8617977