After Julianne Moore won the Oscar for her performance in 'Still Alice', the film climbed back into the US box office top 10, just as it opens across Europe this weekend. Co-director Wash Westmoreland is amazed at how the film has connected with people. "When you're an independent filmmaker you always have a dream version of how things will go," he said. "You have to live within the dream because often the reality is usually too brutal to deal with! But this time the reality has turned out to be better than the dream."

Julianne Moore in 'Still Alice'
Julianne Moore in 'Still Alice'

Most amazing to Westmoreland and his partner, co-director Richard Glatzer, is how the film seems to be changing the perception of Alzheimer's. They credit much of this reaction to Moore's remarkably sensitive performance. "You know, we've always been huge fans of her work," Westmoreland said. "Every character she plays is completely different but yet realistic, whether it's Amber Waves, Sarah Palin or Cathy Whitaker. She has the ability to project intelligence, to be emotionally vulnerable and to act without words. I think in a lot of her movies, like 'Safe', she does a lot without speaking."

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Glatzer agrees. "Julianne is a powerhouse" he said. "Her preparation for this role was thorough in the extreme. By the time she came on set, it was all there."

Watch A Clip From 'Still Alice' Here:

The filmmakers organised the schedule chronologically, designing the sets, costumes, hair, make-up and cinematography to trace the different phases of the disease. "Everyone in the production, from her costars to the assistants, immediately sensed something special was happening with Julianne's performance," Glatzer said. "This brought an extra level of commitment from the entire crew."

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Westmoreland adds that neither had ever experienced Alzheimer's in their families. "But we did have a very unusual circumstance that propelled us toward this material," he said. "Richard had been diagnosed with ALS early in 2011.We thought 'Still Alice' might be too much to take on, but we saw enormous parallels between what Alice goes through and what Richard was going through. The diseases can be seen as opposites - Alzheimer's affects cognition whereas ALS attacks the body - but as they progress, both create barriers for the individual in relating to the wider world, and both demand a struggle to retain the sense of self."

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The filmmakers are already developing their next character-based project.