Some Kind of Heaven
Meet the residents of The Villages, ‘Florida’s Friendliest Hometown’, in a fascinating look at life in a unique retirement community that goes beyond the Disney World for Retirees spin.
Some 130,000 senior Americans have made The Villages, in South Florida, their home. Offering an enviable lifestyle to those who can afford it, its residents have an almost endless array of sports and other activities they can choose to take up; from synchronised swim team, the Aqua Rhythms, a golf cart precision drill team; to a club made up entirely of Elaines – ‘The Elaines’ – as well as week-round live entertainment and dancing in The Villages’ several bars and restaurants. Nirvana can be exhausting, however, and not all the residents have been able to embrace the lifestyle with the same degree of unbridled enthusiasm.
Lance Oppenheim, an award-winning filmmaker from South Florida, lived in a rented room in The Villages “with retired rodeo clowns” for a month, and participated in “a busy daily schedule of shuffleboard, Zumba, and acting club” to better get to know the residents, four of whom – Anne and Reggie Kincer, married 47 years; Barbara Locchiato, a grieving widow; and Dennis Dean, a Californian bachelor finding the grift a little harder at 81 – became the principal subjects and collaborators of this thoughtful, disarming and visually distinctive film. Oppenheim rightly credits his subjects’ “courageous dedication to this film, and the vulnerability, bravado, and longing they allowed us to capture” for his ability to make such a revealing portrait of growing older possible.
Impressed by the young director’s approach, American auteur Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) joined the project early in its genesis as a producer: “Lance has [an] eye for composition and [his] visual language is very strong… and the film he’s made is a timeless look at love and fulfilment in one’s later years [that] will resonate with people at all stages of life”. Shot and edited over a period of eighteen months, Some Kind of Heaven premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020.
– Roberta Ciabarra; Curator, Film