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AARP’s First Annual Movies For Grownups Film Festival

Janet Lee |
November 17, 2013 | 9:20 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Director and writer Jason Reitman discusses his film "Labor Day" with author Joyce Maynard (Neon Tommy/Janet Lee).
Director and writer Jason Reitman discusses his film "Labor Day" with author Joyce Maynard (Neon Tommy/Janet Lee).
The spotlight was on the 50 and over crowd at L.A. Live’s Regal Cinemas this past weekend where AARP held its first annual Movies For Grownups Film Festival. This 4-day event featured 9 films, each followed by a Q & A session with notable actors and filmmakers such as Bruce Dern, Ben Stiller, and Jason Reitman.  

This festival came just in time before awards season, as the baby boomer generation came together to watch highly anticipated films that have been generating Oscar buzz and more importantly, films that speak to them. The ticket price for each screening was $5 for AARP members and $10 for non-members. 

AARP is a nonprofit organization that advocates issues for people 50 and over population. Their mission is to help their members live a better and more fruitful life by providing them with benefits and resources such as education, jobs, healthcare, and of course, entertainment. AARP has its own radio show, YouTube channel, magazine, awards show, and now film festival. There are over a million AARP members in California. 

In addition to already critically acclaimed and released films such as “12 Years A Slave” and “Enough Said,” the festival featured advanced screenings of films such as “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “August: Osage County” that open on Christmas. Although the festival was for grownups, the theatre was filled with a good dose of younger moviegoers especially for “Walter Mitty” and “Nebraska.”

READ MORE: Film Review: '12 Years A Slave'

The festival kicked off on Thursday evening with Stephen Frears’ “Philomena,” a film based on a true story of an Irish woman (Judi Dench) who, with the help of a former political and rather sardonic journalist (Steve Coogan), embarks on a journey to find her long-lost son.

The audience was honored to have the real Philomena Lee join them after the screening who discussed her personal experiences of guilt and forgiveness that she underwent for nearly 50 years. Producer Gabrielle Tana and actress Sophie Kennedy Clark who plays the young Philomena also joined the Q & A session. 

As the festival kicked off with a primarily 50 and over audience, it changed Friday evening as the audience consisted of a good variety of individuals ranging from 20 to 50 and over for “Nebraska,” the latest Alexander Payne film that follows a son (Will Forte) who takes his cranky and distant father (Bruce Dern) to Nebraska to claim his “million dollar prize.”

READ MORE: Film Review: 'Nebraska' And Interview With Alexander Payne

Ben Stiller discusses his film, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (Neon Tommy/Janet Lee).
Ben Stiller discusses his film, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (Neon Tommy/Janet Lee).
This delightful black and white film from Payne truly enraptured audiences, as they gave a standing ovation when the director, along with actors Bruce Dern and June Squibb walked onstage for the Q & A. Payne expressed how “Paper Moon” was an inspiration for his film. 

A line wrapped around Regal Cinemas on Saturday evening for Jason Reitman’s film, “Labor Day.” This film based on Joyce Maynard’s novel, tells the tale of a single mother (Kate Winslet) and her son (Gattlin Griffith) who open their home to an escaped convict (Josh Brolin). 

Many older audience members expressed to director and writer Reitman and author Maynard during the Q & A how touched they were by the film and how tears welled up in their eyes. Reitman and Maynard shared the respectful relationship they carried with one another to bring the novel’s inexplicable characters onto the big screen.  

Theatre seats were filled for Ben Stiller’s upcoming film, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Opening on Christmas, this film follows a day-dreamer (Stiller) who embarks on a journey across the world when his and his fellow colleagues’ jobs are threatened. This wildly imaginative and visual film captivated audiences, as people clapped as the acting credits rolled upon the film’s conclusion.  

People were thrilled to see none other than Stiller as the Q & A guest who spent the last 3 years working on his film. “Even with comedies, you have to be consistent with your characters and treat them as people…there’s always a current to reality somewhere,” Stiller expressed. 

John Wells’ “August: Osage County,” another film opening on Christmas, was screened. This film adapted from the stage play features a star-studded cast with actors such as Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and Chris Cooper who are all part of a dysfunctional family ruled by a pill-popping matriarch (Streep). 

READ MORE: Toronto Film Festival 2013: 10 Standout Performances 

 Osage County" (Neon Tommy/Janet Lee).
Osage County" (Neon Tommy/Janet Lee).
Actors Chris Cooper and Margo Martindale discussed their experiences working with Streep and the rest of the cast to create the complex dynamism of a Midwestern dysfunctional family.  

It was an overall delightful weekend for older moviegoers, as they expressed sincerity and enthusiasm towards the films and guests. The noteworthy films at the festival possessed older characters with narratives that explored the human condition. Many of them were also embellished with stunning visuals of landscapes that carried an evocative and blissful presence. 

The older we get, the more stories there are to tell. Thus, AARP has honored these stories by bringing together a great selection of films and artists this past weekend. Author Joyce Maynard expressed during Q & A how important it is for her to tell stories that speak to her generation.  

“I’m 60, I’m not over yet…I know people want to see the stories of 20 year olds falling in love, but I think there’s more to life than that," she said.

You can find the full lineup of AARP’s Movie For Grownups Film Festival here

Reach Staff Reporter Janet Lee here. Follow her on Twitter.



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