In a world full of ageist attitudes, Lance Oppenheim is turning his director’s lens toward the complexities inherent in stereotypes.
At 25, this filmmaker examines how we look at aging.
That he cares about generations far beyond his own is something remarkable in itself. And hopeful.
With incredible wit and vision, he’s capturing the lives of older people in a way that’s turning heads, according to a recent story on NextAvenue,org.
His documentary, “Some Kind of Heaven,” which premiered in 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival and is now being released widely (on Amazon Prime and YouTube). It was produced by Hollywood director Darren Aronofsky, The New York Times (its first feature film production) and the Los Angeles Media Fund.
In making his first feature-length documentary, Oppenheim admits the process totally changed his view about aging.
“Before making this movie, I thought of old age as a point of arrival where all of your struggles are in the rearview mirror of your life. These stories showed me that’s not entirely true – that even in retirement, people continue to chase their dreams and seek fulfillment and look for love.”
The setting, The Villages community of Florida, often called a “Disneyland for Retirees” is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.
It caters to roughly 130,000 people 55+ and has raised eyebrows for its apparent quirky lifestyle where people can amuse themselves nonstop with everything from pickleball to synchronized swimming to street rod golf-carting to cheerleading.
The residents seemingly go there to forever live young, in cookie-cutter-looking neighborhoods.
That fascinated Oppenheim, who sought to understand why people would want to “bubble” themselves in this manicured world.
Oppenheim challenges the assumptions of this fountain of youth. The story anchors itself on four Villages residents: Anne, Reggie, Dennis and Barbara — all complicated people struggling with their own particular life problems.
In the film, they grapple with loneliness, grief, homelessness and addiction, none of which has anything to do with their age; rather, problems that any person could struggle with.
Oppenheim grew up in south Florida, and admits he has long been mesmerized by the allure of the many retirement communities there.
He has created a number of short films profiling older subjects for The New York Times Op Docs, as well as The Atlantic. For such a young filmmaker, he has already covered a lot of ground and feels compelled to present a better understanding of older Americans.
To read more about Oppenheimer and the film, visit NextAvenue.org.