Awe and Gratitude are the words that keep settling on me as I reflect on the events surrounding the Inaugural Celebrate Aging Film Festival. We truly took a huge step toward changing the perception of aging and bringing appropriate respect and honor to our older generation.
The event was established to help change the way people think about getting older. We wanted to see what it was like through their eyes. So earlier this year, we created a friendly contest among our more than 1,100 senior communities across the country. We asked residents and associates to work together to create a short film using only an iPad. The groups handled all aspects of production including conception, scriptwriting, casting, acting, directing, filming and editing.
It was a tough assignment but after lots of viewing, the nominating committee narrowed it down to nine nominees and Brookdale associates became the Academy by voting for the award-winning films. Last week, we rolled out the red carpet for our special guests.
From the moment the Brookdale residents and associates from the nine nominated communities stepped off their motor coach and on to the sun-drenched red carpet at the historic Franklin Theatre, to the moment the final acceptance speech was given, there was magic in the air. We applauded as one of our special guests entertained us with his very talented guitar playing. We laughed and cried as the films were screened. We were awed by another talented performer as she sang “Rise Up” to a slideshow of photos showing the aftermath of the recent hurricanes that impacted many Brookdale communities, including some that were represented at the film festival.
The impact of this event is impossible to quantify. Residents who traveled to be with us described the experience as life-changing. We heard stories from a wheelchair-bound woman who was sure she would never fly again; from a 92-year-old with a lifelong dream of being a movie star who ended up winning two awards; and from the lasting impact of the film’s messages on those that saw them. This moment will live on forever.
The daughter of one of the film nominees described it this way:
“Mama and I just wanted to let Brookdale know that we will never forget this event we experienced. It was perfect from the minute we arrived at the airport! You all and I mean all, made us feel like true movie stars. It was three days we will never forget.”
I encourage you to take a look for yourself. Below is a list of the final winners including links to view the award-winning movie shorts. Each film is less than five minutes. So grab some popcorn, sit back, relax and open your eyes to a whole new perspective of what it means to celebrate aging!
And the winners are…
Best Writing – No Time to Get Old by Regency Oaks Clearwater, Clearwater, Fla.
Best Technical Design – At Home Here by Brookdale Florence, Florence, Ala.
Best Acting – Hope by Brookdale Canyon Lakes, Kennewick, Wash.
Best Picture – At Home Here by Brookdale Florence, Florence, Ala.
Courage Award – I am Still a Man by Brookdale Conway, Conway, S.C.
Ecolab People’s Choice Award – No Time to Get Old by Regency Oaks Clearwater, Clearwater, Fla.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the films. Were you inspired? Were you moved? Let us know, in the comments below, how these films and the creative minds behind them, made you feel.