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Silver Images Film Festival


Presented by the Chicago-based documentary production and distribution company Terra Nova Films, the seventh annual Silver Images Film Festival runs Monday, May 1, through Sunday, May 14, at Good Shepherd Hospital, 450 W. Highway 22, Barrington; Loyola Univ. Rubloff Auditorium, 25 E. Pearson; District 214 Community Education, 2121 S. Goebbert Rd., Arlington Heights; Good Samaritan Hospital, 3815 Highland, Education Room C, Downers Grove; College of DuPage Older Adult Institute, 22nd St. and Lambert Rd., Glen Ellyn; Ravenswood Hospital, 4450 N. Winchester; South Suburban Hospital, 17800 S. Kedzie, Hazelcrest; Copernicus Center, 3160 N. Milwaukee; North Shore Senior Center, New Trier West Center, Building D, 7 Happ Rd., Northfield; Howard Brown Health Center, 4025 N. Sheridan; and Lutheran General Hospital, 1775 Dempster, Park Ridge. Unless otherwise noted, admission is free; all films will be shown on video. For more information call 773-881-6940.


Short films, program one

Keiko Ibi's Oscar-winning video documentary The Personals (1998) offers an endearing look at elderly Manhattan singles who find friendship and therapy through a drama workshop. Perhaps only a young outsider like Ibi, a film student from Japan, could have elicited such candid and amusing remarks about sex, desire, and loneliness based on the seniors' latest play, drawn from personal ads in a Jewish weekly. Some of the scenes are cloying or run too long, but the film is animated by the seniors' zest for life. Mark Haller Wade's Flowers for Charlie (1996) is a sentimental, didactic vignette about an old man who befriends fellow passengers on his regular bus route. His calming influence is missed when he doesn't show up for three days in a row, leaving us with the obvious moral that we should cherish rather than ignore seniors. Sue Marx and Pamela Conn's Young at Heart (1987) profiles Louis and Reva, two widowed amateur painters in their 80s who become companions and finally tie the knot in a Jewish wedding. They're well-adjusted in old age, readily dispensing opinions about art and advice for longevity. At times the film suggests a public service announcement about dealing with the golden years, yet it's undeniably heartwarming when the couple recall their upbringing, their respective children, and their late spouses. (TS) (Good Shepherd Hospital, 9:00 am)

94 Years and 1 Nursing Home Later

See Critic's Choice. (Loyola Univ. Rubloff Auditorium, 1:00 and 7:00)


Short films, program two

Johnson's List (1998), a documentary by Jonathan Grupper, tells the story of "Johnny" Johnson, a POW during the Korean War who secretly recorded the names of American fatalities so their fates would be known. Daughter of the Bride (1997) by Terry Randall examines a family's mixed feelings when its widowed mother decides to remarry. On the same program, Down, Across. Admission is $3. (District 214 Community Education, 10:00 am)


Short films, program three

Two films: The Personals and Young at Heart. (Good Samaritan Hospital, 9:00 am)

Short films, program four

Bob Costas narrates Len Berman's 24-minute documentary The Spirit of Senior Softball (1999), about seniors finding camaraderie in sports. On the same program, The Personals. (College of DuPage Older Adult Institute, 1:30)

Short films, program five

Robin Lehman's Forever Young (1981) is a straightforward compilation of interviews with seniors over 70 that investigates the secret of long life. Some are shown engaging in strenuous activities like running, flying airplanes, and skydiving, while others thrive on sedentary habits (one woman says she smokes, drinks, eats cocktail food, and has plenty of sex). The only thing they all share is the will to stay active. (TS) On the same program: The Personals and Flowers for Charlie. (Ravenswood Hospital, 3:00)


Short films, program six

In Women of the Georgian Hotel (1992) filmmaker Rose Shoshana visits a sunny retirement home to profile four seniors ranging in age from 83 to 107. Her film celebrates their resilience and practical optimism, but it's so unimaginatively assembled that it makes some of their reminiscences sound like drivel. The women play to the camera like children, delighted with the attention, and some of their remarks sound rehearsed. Still, their feistiness and reluctance to dwell on the past are admirable. (TS) On the same program: The Personals, Flowers for Charlie, and Forever Young. (South Suburban Hospital, 8:30 am)

Short films, program seven

Laura Murray's Encore (1998) documents the relationship between a dance student in her 90s and the 70-ish woman who teaches her. Barbara Wiener's Whisper: The Women (1990) challenges the stereotypes assigned to older women, as seven of them describe their experiences. On the same program: The Personals and The Spirit of Senior Softball. (Copernicus Center, 10:00 am)

Short films, program eight

Sadia Shepard's black-and-white documentary Reinvention (1998) profiles an inventor. Tony Sehgal's No Laughing Matter (1998) examines the phenomenon of India's "laughing clubs," in which people rejuvenate themselves through morning laughing sessions. On the same program: Flowers for Charlie, The Personals, and The Spirit of Senior Softball. Admission is $4, $2 for members of North Shore Senior Center. (North Shore Senior Center, 1:00)

Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100

Yvonne Welbon directed this hour-long 1999 profile of Ellis, a centenarian lesbian who's lived a remarkably independent and well-adjusted life. Neither Ellis nor her family or friends ever made a fuss about her sexuality; after leaving Springfield for Detroit in 1937, she bought a house with her lover, started a print shop, and became den mother to gay people who had moved to the city. Welbon uses vintage photos and reenactments to place Ellis's lucid memories in the context of African-American history, from lynchings in the early part of the century through the world wars and the social turmoil of the 60s and 70s. Yet the director settles for an amiable tone and standard PBS format, choosing not to probe Ellis's relationship with her longtime companion or dwell on her bouts of loneliness. These days she's protected by a tight circle of lesbians, and the series of testimonials near the end of this lovefest only reinforces the impression that the women who've adopted her are far more political than she ever was. (TS) (Howard Brown Health Center, 7:00)

Short films, program nine

In Shall We Dance? (1995) a group of seniors attend rehearsals for the Sadler's Wells ballet theater in London; Lorraine Charker directed this British TV documentary. On the same program: The Personals, Flowers for Charlie, and Whisper: The Women. (Lutheran General Hospital, 7:00)

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