For Sari Gilman the journey toward an Oscar nomination began when she was nine years old. That was when her grandparents moved to Kings Point, a retirement community in Florida that became the subject – and the title – of her documentary short.
Visiting her grandparents as a child, she saw Kings Point as a summer camp for older people. As a college student studying photography, she became more fascinated with the place and found its residents compelling subjects for her photos. Making Kings Point, her directorial debut, was “less a decision than it started happening almost without me knowing it,” Gilman, a veteran documentary editor, told EW. “I think in some ways the story had been in my bones since I was a child.”
The 31-minute short, which is dedicated to Gilman’s late grandmother, Ida, follows five residents of the retirement community as they struggle to foster new deep friendships late in life, wonder whether they could ever fall in love again and tentatively broach the topics of illness and aging.
Gilman found it wasn’t difficult for these residents to open up to someone decades younger.
“They knew me as the granddaughter of someone who lived there. I wasn’t really an outsider,” Gilman said. She also found talking about her own grandmother’s experiences with aging – saying, for example, that she was having a harder time walking up stairs – encouraged her documentary subjects to talk about their own struggles.
Gilman hopes that her film encourages audiences to start conversations with their parents or children about what their plans are after retirement and that it sheds light on the value of inter-dependence.
“What I learned by being there and talking to people so deeply was some people felt a certain kind of shame in their aging process,” Gilman, 43, said. “As Americans we think there’s something wrong with us when we age. I hope that that won’t be true for me. I’m not saying aging will ever be easy… but I do hope that I accept the changes a little bit more without fighting them as much.”
HBO acquired Kings Point and will air the film on March 11.
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