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Daniel Craig as Darren in the 2003 film The Mother.Ivan Kyncl/Courtesy of Mongrel Media

A year ago, a Toronto-based film festival devoted to older filmmakers and the stories of seniors made its debut. It’s back, again in virtual form, but the name of the festival has changed. What was Silver Scene is now the Ageless International Film Festival. Executive director Judy Gladstone spoke to The Globe and Mail about the new title, a garden party with actor Don McKellar and former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson’s aboveboard interest in a younger Daniel Craig.

Why the name change from Silver Scene to Ageless?

I was at a socially distanced garden party this summer, sitting with Don McKellar and the developer David Daniels. Don told me that to him Silver Scene sounded like a film festival that focused on the golden era of Hollywood. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but once he said it, it made sense. A couple of days later, David suggested Ageless. Everybody on the board loved it, so we changed the name.

With cinemas opening up why did you decide to stick with a virtual festival?

I actually wanted a hybrid festival this year. I wanted it to be part of an evolution. The name has changed, we’ve doubled in size, and we now have filmmakers breaking down their films and having conversations with the audiences. But people are not showing up to cinemas, except for the blockbusters. They’re scared to go. Still, I was hoping to have one screening at the University of Toronto. Their rooms are smaller. But once I found out they were closed until the new year, we decided to keep it virtual.

Looking at this year’s program, I’m delighted not to see any feel-good films about over-the-hill gangs and their one-last capers.

Right, the bucket list films. No, what we’re showing are meaningful films on the older person behind the camera and on the screen. Our opening night presentation is a sneak peek at parts of the feature documentary Dear Audrey, which hasn’t been released yet. It’s about renowned director Martin Duckworth caring for his wife, who has Alzheimer’s. It’s directed by Jeremiah Hayes. Both Martin and Jeremiah will take part in a moderated discussion. There are riches of these types of films to choose from. I think there’s a desire now to portray the reality and the range of experiences of older adults.

The 2021 documentary It Is Not Over Yet is an immersive, life-affirming journey into the day-to-day rhythm of a controversial Danish nursing home for people with dementia, providing a rarely seen and uplifting experience of aging with dignity, grace and joy.Handout

I understand Adrianne Clarkson is now involved with the festival. How did that come to be?

The truth is that she reached out to us after reading an article last year on the festival in The Globe and Mail. She’s now on our advisory council. In fact, she selected The Mother for this year’s festival. It’s a story of an older woman being intimate with a younger man, played by Daniel Craig. It’s our closing night film.

Wait, wasn’t Harold and Maude, another May-December romance story, last year’s closing night film?

It was. It doesn’t have the comedic aspect of Harold and Maude, but it pushes the envelope. And it’s a film people haven’t seen. It was released in 2003, and you can’t find it on streaming platforms. We’re presenting it as a tribute to Roger Michell, who died last year. He also directed Notting Hill.

To be honest, I’ve never heard of The Mother.

It’s nearly 20 years old, so Daniel Craig is quite handsome, with a blond beard. And he’s half-naked for most of the film. And what a performance! It starts slowly – you can crochet during the first 15 minutes. But it really picks up, and it’s absolutely worth the wait.

The Ageless International Film Festival runs Nov. 18 to Nov 21, with pay-what-you-can screenings at agelessfilmfestival.org.

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