As 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, the US faces serious questions about the role of seniors in families, communities and society at large. Florida Water explores these issues through the parallel but divergent lives of two retired seniors, Boomer and David. Boomer is a second-generation German-American and a Vietnam vet; David is a devout Christian from rural Florida. They both live in Nalcrest, a Florida retirement community built by the letter carriers union in 1963.
Nalcrest’s working class demographics and labor union history suggest inclusiveness and solidarity, yet it is precisely the community’s failures in this regard that make it a meaningful microcosm of American society through which to investigate retirement and aging.
Both Boomer and David are seeking reprieve from years of struggle, though they have different coping strategies. Boomer, an offbeat alcoholic with childlike tenderness, suffers from fainting and acute PTSD. His erratic behavior and odd sense of humor attract a few residents but alienate him from most. As he shares joints and pain-management strategies with his circle of friends, Boomer explores his experiences of violence, addiction, and poverty, endeavoring to fill the absence of the families and communities he left up North.
David, an eccentric and spiritual 80-year-old, is gradually losing his vision and the state has taken away his driver’s license. He spends all of his time alone, listening to church on the radio and exploring the natural world. As he reminisces about his childhood as a dairy farmer, he deepens his relationship with the Lord, looking for guidance in an increasingly foggy world.
In the story of their aging lies a counter narrative that complicates depictions of disempowered communities and helps us understand not just how seniors deal with death, illness and grief, but also how they live day to day, in many ways apart from the rest of society.
Official Selection of Sarasota International Film Festival 2021
About the filmmaker
Hazel Katz is a Los Angeles-based video artist and filmmaker focusing on the politics of visibility through reenactment and pop culture archives. Her 2017 short film, Bubby & Them, won top international film at WNDX festival. Hazel's work has been supported by MOMA PS1, Tate Modern, and festivals internationally, and her 2019 feature documentary Florida Water is now distributed by Collective Eye Films. Hazel recently completed a yearlong collaborative residency at UnionDocs and is currently pursuing an MFA in Visual Arts at UC San Diego.