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- Social Issues, Culture, Portrait, Contemporary Issues, and Human Interest
Lavender Hall is a feature documentary about a residential care home housing a wild bunch of irreverent residents with backgrounds from pianist to plastic surgeon. A family-run residential care home in an era of expanding corporate-run facilities, Lavender Hall is an anachronism. So too is its owner, Bill Kopec, with his drill sergeant-like approach to caring for residents. Founded and run by Billâ€™s mother in the seaside town of Wildwood, NJ, Bill struggled to keep his mother's dream alive after her death. After 48yrs of caring for incongruous residents, most from Ancora, the local psychiatric institution, Bill Kopec is closing Lavender Hall. With Bill now older than most residents, and no family member willing to take over, the home will be demolished to make way for condos. This dysfunctional family of 14 residents will be made homeless in 4 months unless their only advocates, Bill Kopec and his daughter RenÃ©e, can navigate the medical insurance labyrinth to find them new homes.
- Show treatment
Lavender Hall is a residential care home that houses a wild bunch of irreverent residents who boast surprising backgrounds from classically trained pianist to plastic surgeon. One of the last family-run residential care homes in an era of expanding corporate-run facilities and managed-care, Lavender Hall is an anachronism and so too is its owner, Bill Kopec, with his drill sergeant-like approach to taking care of his residents. â€¨Normally off limits to cameras, this film has unprecedented and unfettered access to this privately run care facility.
After 48 years of caring for incongruous residents, most of whom were transferred from Ancora, the local psychiatric institution, Bill Kopec is closing the doors to their small residential care home. Founded and run by Billâ€™s mother up until her death in 1981, Bill struggled to keep his mother's dream alive by going every weekend to help manage Lavender Hall, on top of his full time job as a executive at Xerox. But with Bill now older than most of his residents, and no one in the Kopec family willing to take over, the somewhat shabby 1920â€™s home will be demolished to make way for condos in the seaside resort town of Wildwood, New Jersey. Best known in its heyday of the 1950s and 1960s for its garish Doo-Wap architecture of motor-hotels, plastic palms and hopping music scene, Wildwood earned the nickname the "Las Vegas of the East". Wildwood long since lost that title, though some lingering Doo-Wap architecture harks back to the days when Dick Clark spun records for American Bandstand at The Starlight Ballroom.
Numerous Lavender Hall residents are battling serious problems. Like Linda, the youngest resident at 52, who is a chronic alcoholic, bi-polar and has an eating disorder--and that's just for starters. Some, like Joel, have been at Lavender Hall for more than 19 years, and at 62 he has composed dozens of original operettas and sketches for musical theatre works. He performs them for the residents from memory on Lavender Hall's upright piano, despite his severe autism. Others are just whiling away their retirement in a sunny home by the sea, unsure of how to deal with their fellow troubled residents or their Care Assistant's pet ferret, Skeeter.
This dysfunctional family of 14 residents will be made homeless in 4 months unless their only advocates, Bill Kopec and his jewelry designer daughter RenÃ©e, can navigate the complexities of the care facility options and medical insurance labyrinth to find them all new homes before demolition day.
Lavender Hall is a frequently funny and occasionally disquieting portrait of the oddball residents and their equally eccentric carers. This film reveals the challenges of the enduring life on the largely invisible margins of society, when you are considered either too old or too crazy for anyone to care what you do. This film hopes to cross that threshold of crazy and breach that lonely aging divide. Do come along with us and visit the residents of Lavender Hall, we think you'll like them as much as we do.
RESIDENT TALENT--JOEL COLKER'S MUSIC
When we set up our equipment to record Joel's musical repertory, we expected to hear some of the â€˜standardsâ€™ he played for his fellow residents and perhaps a performance of his own composition, a dramatic ballad known as "The Time Machine." But as he began to play, we heard original music that no one knew he had composed. "The Time Machine" was only the one of dozens of original compositions, operettas, and sketches for musical theatre works that partially existed on paper, but mostly in Joel's head. The thematic content ranges from patriotic marches, "The Triumph of Justice", to settings of his favorite novels, such as H.G. Wells's "The Time Machine" or "The War of the Worlds", to satirical autobiographical works, such as the "The Cranyville Follies," written about and during his stay at Emeryville State Hospital, from which emerges one of Joel's most delightful and endearing songs entitled "You Need Someone."
- in post-production
- Lisa Guidetti ... Producer/Director
- Renee Kopec ... Co-Producer
- Prod. Co.
- Jefferson Street Productions
- United States
- Wildwood, New Jersey
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