Seniors Find Sun, Sin and Sorrow in a Fla. Retirement Village

New documentary, 'Kings Point,' explores America's denial of old age.

ByABC News
July 27, 2012, 4:54 PM

July 30, 2012— -- In 1979, Ida Gilman and her husband moved to Florida for the sun and the palm trees and the promise of a life rich with activities and other couples their own age.

She traded a New York City rental apartment for a $20,000 pink condominium in an organized community at Kings Point. There, Gilman immersed in the good life -- poolside chatter, mahjongg and dancing to the oldies.

But three decades later, her husband long gone and her own health failing, Gilman soured on her paradise retirement and moved back to spend her last days closer to family.

Old age, especially in an age-segregated community can be lonely, according to a new documentary, "Kings Point," which is directed by Gilman's granddaughter.

In her directorial debut, Sari Gilman follows five seniors over a decade, through sickness, death, regret and, surprisingly, the disillusionment of their seemingly idyllic lives.

The film, produced by Wider Film Projects, won the grand jury prize at Silverdocs last month and takes a hard look at aging and the nation's obsession with independence at all costs.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 40 million Americans are over the age of 65 and that number is expected to explode with the aging of baby boomers.

"No one wants to talk about it -- when we can't tie our own shoes," Gilman told

She said she had been fascinated by Kings Point, visiting her grandmother since she was 9 years old. "It seemed like a summer camp for older people."

But over time, she noticed a "shift" in the way grandmother Gilman related to others. "Everyone slowed down and the nature of their interaction changed a lot," she said.

Sari Gilman decided there was something there -- the need for relationships, no matter what the age, and the documentary was born.

She had previously worked with Rory Kennedy on HBO's Emmy-nominated "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" (2007). Gilman received funding from Chicken & Egg Pictures, which supports women filmmakers who address important social issues.

"I kind of planted myself at the pool and started talking to people," said Gilman.

There, she met strident Gert, whose husband had died, and claimed she was too old for love.

"Some ladies have to have a male companion," she says. "They go through them like hot cakes and can't be alone for five minutes without a guy."

Gert avoids getting too close, fearing those around her only care about, "what can they get out of you -- everybody is a user here."