Travel Adventure Documentary Magazine
Travel Adventure Documentary magazine
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Next Year Jerusalem

First Run Features Posted by First Run Features in Blogs March 17th, 2014

EDITORS NOTE: The trailer for First Run Features', Next Year Jerusalem is what captured me. It was moving, the pace and shots outstanding and the music haunting. It reminded me of the thousands of armchair travelers  who have been the life's blood of the 120 year old travelogue industry. These armchair voyagers attended until mental or physical abilities ended their loyal support. For the first two seasons of the renewed Omaha travel film series, a driver would bring our oldest patron, she loved attended and would not miss a show. For over 50 years she had been attending, but she was finally forced to stop at the age of 101.

 
Helen Downs, age 91 floats in the Dead Sea

Choosing how to live one's final chapter is the poignant subtext of Next Year Jerusalem, a lyrical and affecting portrait of eight nursing home residents (average age 91) who make a pilgrimage to Israel. 



Next Year Jerusalem is less a story about tourists in a foreign land than it is a meditation on the sanctity of human experience and a tribute to the wisdom acquired in a lifetime – a true exploration of living and dying, hope and fear, travel and memory.

Those who spend their final days in a nursing home face a future with limited promise. But the promise of one last adventure raises the stakes.

Director and cinematographer David Gaynes observes and presents the lives of the elderly travelers in an understated way, elegantly capturing both the quiet routines of nursing

A group of nursing home residents visits the Massada in Israel
home life and the dramatic, sweeping landscapes of Israel during their travels. The film evolves in a linear fashion, from the planning and preparing for the trip, to the journey itself, then back again to the routines of nursing home life, always with a nod to the underlying subtext: this is their last great adventure and soon the journey will be over.  The film evolves subtly away from the story of the trip itself, toward a deeper reflection on what it means to live in life's sunset.

 Next Year Jerusalem is David Gaynes' third documentary feature and a continuation of his fascination with exploring the subtle distinctions between living and dying. Gaynes' first short documentary More Than Skin Deep (2002) was also shot at the same nursing home, the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield, Connecticut.



 

David Gaynes
Gaynes says, "Framed by the story of elderly people going on one last adventure, I found a vehicle to pose existential questions in subtle ways: at one moment a reflection on the vain struggle to capture experiences in a photograph, in another the frustrated refusal to accept mediocre hospital food. The stakes of living can be high in the final stages and I wanted to bear witness to the complicated dynamics of acceptance when life's end is near."

 

72 Minutes / Color / Digital (DCP) / USA / English / 2014
 
Directed and Produced by: David Gaynes
 Produced by: Jessica Wolfson 
Executive Producer: Andrew Banoff 
Cinematographer: David Gaynes 
Editor: Aaron Wolfe
 Associate Producers: Carrie Frank, Deana Bedor
 Additional Editing: Mark Becker, David Gaynes
 Original Music: Christopher Garofalo
 Sound Recordist: Eric Budney
 Sound Mix and Design: Alex Noyes


FEATURING: Regine Arouette, 87; Helen Downs, 91; Sandy Levin, 82; Leslie Novis, 90; Selma Rosenblatt, 93; Harry Shell, 92; Bill Wein, 97; Juna Wein, 89; Andrew Banoff; Donnette Banton; Audrey Stein


 

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