There is a place in Arizona, so peaceful, people come there to die. It’s a retirement community, in the middle of the desert, especially designed for seniors, with palm trees and bungalows, blue skies, red sunsets, tons of pharmacies and extra wide streets for a comfortable ride in your golf cart! In this sunny paradise, we see all the different shades of aging: as a state of excitement, fear, joy and pain.
Everyone living here has to find their own way to deal with life while facing death: Olive has kept her humour, even though her body is limiting her life. She still sings, still goes for a walk, still dances with her hoover in the living room, and she is still looking for her roller blades, which remind her of good times but which she can’t use anymore. What Olive is not willing to accept, is her daughter treating her like she has Alzheimer’s. Who diagnosed that?
Aging is a condition where “aches and pains are part of the deal”, as Jim states. On the other hand, you have reached a point in your life where you can just shrug and say: “Get over it or take a pill to make you feel good”. At least, that‘ s what Betty-Jane is recommending. Anything is better than complaining, isn’t it?
Roger and Kitty are still very passionate about driving their Harley together, but decided to give up the bike when Roger turns 80. Roger is convinced, that most people in Sun City have good sex. Even better sex than 40 years ago and 88-year old Dee would agree. She is almost blind, deaf and handicapped walking but she likes to have her nails done before her lover comes over to spend the night.
All of these seniors teach us something, without intending to do so: If you don’t have much time left, you can choose to make the best out of it. Jim sums it up quite carefree: “We come to Sun City to die – but to have fun while doing it!”
Due to their honesty, the protagonists are not only opening up their lives but also stick with you long after the film is over. “Playing Hooky” is an essayistic, compassionate documentary on aging.
It’s powerful, sad and funny – just like aging itself.
Abraham Meth, Jim Koopman, Jan and Mike Jackson, Kitty and Roger Yadro, Olive Hosmer, Earl Warren, Kelley Greenburg, Jodina Errichetti and One foot in the grave, Betty-Jane Peters, Dee and Dutch Schultz
CAMERA susan gluth ORIGINAL SOUND Doro Carl, Lothar Niehaus EDITORS susan gluth, Andreas Zitzmann, Gerhard Schabel ARTISTIC CONSULTANT Thomas Heiber DRAMATURGY CONSULTANT Dr. Hermann Barth ORIGINAL MUSIC Ernest Tubb, “One foot in the grave”, Dutch Schultz COMPOSER Andreas Weidinger MUSICAL CONSULTANT Pirmin Marti RE-RECORDING MIXER Hendrik Knoch, Loft Studios SOUND EDITOR Simon Bastian, Volker Zeigermann TITLE DESIGN Bernd Müller, graphikcafe HD-COLOUR GRADING Martin Heckmann LAYWERS Dr. Daniel Kaboth, Kanzlei Ampersand, Dr. Christian Dietrich, Christian Füllgraf, Manuel Roderer TAX CONSULTANT Anke Grothe, Steuerbüro Grothe Lilienthal ACCOUNTING Piotr Odemski PRODUCTION CONSULTANT Tanja Meding LANGUAGE CONSULTANT Jane Michael FESTIVAL CONSULTANT Andrew Rodgers WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY susan gluth PRODUCER susan gluth PRODUCTION COMPANY gluthfilm
From my point of view the film is an essay made for a wider audience in the arthouse sector. Not an intellectual approach towards death but entertaining, funny, absurd, reflecting and sad at the same time. The film touches on a lot of important issues about aging, what it means to those who do, how they deal with it and how to age gracefully. And it shows how a utopian community, build specifically for the older generation may work – or not. The powerful protagonists slowly but steadily open up their lives and they stay with you, long after you have seen the film.