South Florida snuck its way into the glamorous Hollywood spotlight of Thursday’s Academy Award nominations, but not in a way you might expect.
“Kings Point,” a poignant look at life, love and loneliness among six residents of the titular retirement community in Delray Beach, was among the titles nominated in the Short Documentary category.
The film, which clocks in at about 30 minutes, was seen locally at last fall’s Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, which CEO Greg Von Hausch attributed to a bit of luck. “Kings Point” arrived in an unassuming envelope, one of many cold submissions that often get ignored by harried FLIFF curators. But seeing the Florida tie-in, Von Hausch took a shot.
“It was much more than it appeared to be. There’s life, death, comedy and pathos,” Von Hausch said Thursday afternoon. “How the camera captured all these intimate and rather private moments was amazing. I’m just delighted for this film.”
“Kings Point” is the result of two decades of visits by filmmaker Sari Gilman (pictured) to see her grandmother, who moved to South Florida from New York. In the beginning, life was warm and sunny, but as Gilman writes on the film’s website, day-to-day existence for her grandmother and friends took an inevitable turn.
“Loneliness became endemic. While my grandmother was not interested in finding a partner after my grandfather passed, some residents entered a fierce dating scene,” Gilman writes. “With women far outnumbering men, the competition was brutal, and residents had plenty of time to gossip. … I noticed an almost Darwinian aspect of social life. If you had your health, you were popular. If not, people stopped coming by.”
Gilman woke up early Thursday morning in anticipation of the Oscar nominations.
“It was actually a friend on the East Coast (5:30 my time) who told me,” Gilman said in an email from her home in San Francisco. “I was in my pajamas and it was still dark, but I was laughing to myself out of joy.”
Gilman is especially gratified to know that the nomination will mean that more people may see “Kings Point.”
“People will see that the thoughts and emotions of the residents of Kings Point are interesting and valid and worth listening to,” she said. “There are people who are experiencing all the same joys and challenges that we all do. Ultimately, looking for human connection.”
The film is dedicated to her grandmother, who died two years ago.
“I only wish that she were here to enjoy this moment with me,” Gilman said.
The FLIFF screening drew many Kings Point residents, who were very excited “until they found out I was going to charge them full price,” Von Hausch said, laughing.
They may get another chance: Gilman has plans to return to South Florida to screen the film for Kings Point residents. And the documentary is set to air March 11 on HBO. For more information, go to KingsPointMovie.com.