BEST ACTOR - Austin Pendleton
Ball and Vase
Julie Anne Robinson
Austin Pendleton, Diane J Findlay
When an ailing and widowed 92-year-old magician learns his grandson will not be visiting for his last Christmas, he struggles to reconnect with the world--and himself—one last time by attempting to perform at a local pub that he used to visit with his wife.
Statement from Filmmaker
I’ve been wanting to tell this story ever since my grandfather passed away. Like Ed in this film, my grandfather, a sometimes magician, immigrated to Paterson, NJ, worked in the mills and did his best to provide for those he loved. He was as much a father, as a grandfather, to me. But I took for granted that he would be around forever. Life got in the way of visits, phone calls and letters . . . until it was too late. It’s no secret that in our culture the elderly, especially those without means, are often marginalized. A significant percentage of Americans over 80 live in nursing homes, alone and often forgotten. It is so easy for many of us to forget that they still share the same longings for connection, love, curiosity for life, desires for growth as any young adult; but the opportunities afforded the younger are often nonexistent for the elderly. Sadly, our industry often reflects this marginalization. Casting this film highlighted a poignant example. A very well-known actor in his 80’s expressed a strong desire to play Ed, but only if the part could be rewritten as 70 years old. Playing his real age would only further reinforce the perception he was now too old for the industry to which he devoted over 60 years. On the other hand, we were beyond fortunate that Austin Pendleton responded to the script. If we now have any goal for this project, it is to encourage others to realize regardless of his age, Austin’s talent is beyond extraordinary. It is my hope, especially for Austin’s sake, that you might respond to this film in a strong enough way to want to share his performance with others as well. While this is my first narrative film, my previous documentary “One All The Way” was fortunate to win 14 best film awards, including at Oscar qualifier festivals. It focused on three elderly subjects from NJ and, like Ball and Vase, touched upon issues of aging, isolation and loss. In this film, we follow Ed Coleman, 92-years-old, during two days near the end of his sometimes extraordinary, but mostly simple life in Hoboken, NJ. It is a very small story, but one that organically touches upon the universal themes of aging, loss and abandonment that we are all sometimes hesitant to face head on. I was inspired by films like Michael Haneke’s “Amour” and Bertrand Tavernier’s “A Sunday in the Country”—seeing Ed’s world as it really is, without an overabundance of sentimentality or whimsy. Ed’s performance of magic is not about fanciful illusion or romanticizing end of life. It simply illustrates what is still possible for all of us, regardless of age. This story shows Ed, even at his advanced age and overall sense of isolation, attempting to reconnect with the world through his love of magic and his newfound ability to bring joy, even if just for a moment, to others. We all know Ed. I hope this film will remind us to reengage with the Eds in all of our lives.