Those of you with a memory for such things will likely be able to recall the last piece of work by filmmaker Jenny Schweitzer we featured on It’s Nice That. Girls in Chess was, as the title suggests, an exploration of the gender gap in the world of competitive American scholastic chess. It was charming, funny, warm – the sort of short film you foist upon friends and family, knowing full well that they’ll love it as much as you did. Now turning her lens towards an open, honest, and at times hilarious account of life in a retirement home nestled on the shore of the Hudson River in the Bronx, New York. We’re almost certain that her latest project, The Blessings of Aging, will garner the same reaction.
A collection of unforgettable faces, amazing accents, and snapshots of lives being lived to the full until the very end, The Blessings of Aging was premiered by The New Yorker before very recently being made available to all. “This project was actually created for the Hebrew Home at Riverdale’s Gala dinner in November of 2018,” Jenny tells It’s Nice That. “I just worked with them last spring on a short documentary about music therapy for end-of-life patients and they contacted me for this one. The goal was to depict the meaningful work the Hebrew Home is doing and the impact it has on those in their care towards positive, empowered ageing.”
Like many of us, Jenny feared growing old. Prior to filming at the Hebrew Home that is. Describing the process of shooting the short as “therapeutic” she says, “I felt that it was my role, as the interviewer, to showcase this positive side of ageing to the many people who, like I was, are petrified.”
From smashing lengths in the swimming pool to playing, well, pool, the residents captured in Jenny’s film have found their own niche, and the director was instructed by Daniel Reingold, the President and CEO of RiverSpring Health to produce a film that was funny – and to do that, she decided to channel someone very dear to her. She decided to channel her own granny.
“I remember her making me laugh hysterically,” Jenny says. “I thought if any of these people are like her, I’ve got something. In the end, they all were and I ended up having to cut a lot of wonderful material to keep the running time under five minutes.
What Jenny has ended up with is one of the most enjoyable, and hopeful, five minutes of film we’ve seen so far this year. Jenny’s already put down a deposit on a room at the Hebrew Home. We’re considering doing the same.