Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 5/28/20 – Documentary filmmaker, Robin Leacock, latest film, “Stella & Co: A Romantic Musical Comedy Documentary About Aging,” on PBS Stella & Co is inspired by Robin’s 103-year-old grandmother, Estelle “Stella” Craig, who lived at an independent living senior residence in Palm Beach and the documentary follows the lives of eight residents, ranging in age from late 70s to early 100s.
Your recent film, “Stella & Co: A Romantic Musical Comedy Documentary About Aging,” follows eight vibrant seniors. What surprised you the most while filming?
Robin Leacock: The most surprising thing to me was that all the seniors felt young or ageless. Most of the people we spoke to identified with being in their 20s or 30s. One of them, Maria, said that if she didn’t go around with a walker, she would think she was 16. My thinking about this is that we are all people. We don’t change who we are just because we’ve been around on this planet for more years. That doesn’t mean we’re not still who we are. We are still ourselves – not some indescribable term called “old”. Old people tend to get lumped into a category when in fact we are all vibrant individuals.”
Why is this project so important to you?
Robin Leacock: I wanted to give a voice to older people. So many people go unheard as they age and in fact, they usually have more important things to say than fashionable younger people who often have the microphone.
Your film kicks off with a quote, “In Earth-keeping cultures, each elder that dies is a library that burns.” Expound on this idea.
Robin Leacock: Every life has a story and a rich history. When any voice disappears, it is an irreplaceable presence. With age comes an incredible life, whatever form it takes. That is the library of experience that burns. Because inside of each person is a whole universe unique to them.
What does it mean to age in modern times?
Robin Leacock: Aging in modern times is different depending on which culture you live in. In some cultures, mostly Eastern or Indigenous, they have huge respect for older people. In Western culture particularly America we tend to put older people on the shelf, try to make them comfortable, and mostly forget about them – unless they are your grandparents or parents.
If older people are savvy, they can try to make use of the Internet or other forms of communication to have their voices heard. My Mom Stella and I were going to do a YouTube show together. She was really fun and had a huge personality!
We are living in extraordinary times where our elders are the most vulnerable. What do you want the world to know?
Robin Leacock: I think the seniors in my film STELLA & CO: A ROMANTIC MUSICAL COMEDY DOCUMENTARY ABOUT AGING are very capable of speaking for themselves and they do. I think that’s what I want to say – that Seniors have lived a long time. They have a strong voice, and unless there’s something missing in their memory, they are capable of letting the world know what’s necessary – if we would only listen to them. Of course, protecting them, especially now, is of utmost importance.
What is your philosophy in life and how does it apply to your work?
Robin Leacock: I think it’s very hard to pin down one philosophy! Maybe being kind, which is the focus of my previous film A PASSION FOR GIVING! I just make a film if I’m inspired to do so by something that crosses my path…and of course making a film is a lot of work so you have to be really sure that the subject is something so important and meaningful that you want to focus on it for quite a long time!
How did this film change your vision?
Robin Leacock: Making this film didn’t change my vision. It was a chance to express one of my visions! And of course, give voice to other people’s visions too…
Documentary filmmaker, Robin Leacock, will release her latest film, “Stella & Co: A Romantic Musical Comedy Documentary About Aging,” on PBS Stella & Co is inspired by Robin’s 103-year-old grandmother, Estelle “Stella” Craig, who lived at an independent living senior residence in Palm Beach and the documentary follows the lives of eight residents, ranging in age from late 70s to early 100s. The film provides an introspective, nostalgic and uplifting peek into the lives of these vibrant seniors, who continue to celebrate life, laugh hard and tell wonderful stories with humor and grace well into their golden years.