Director's Spotlight: LAURA CHECKOWAY
Big Apple Film Festival is proud to welcome Laura Checkoway to the Big Apple Film Festival Women's Filmmaker Showcase. Her film "EDITH+EDDIE" will screen on Friday, January 19th, 2018 at 8:45 p.m. at the SVA Theatre.
Edith and Eddie, ages 96 and 95, are America's oldest interracial newlyweds. Their love story is disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear the couple apart.
Laura Checkoway's new documentary, Edith+Eddie, premiered at True/False Film Fest in 2017 and has gone on to win numerous awards including the IDA Documentary Awards Best Short 2017. The film is executive produced by Steve James and Cher. Laura's award-winning debut film LUCKY (also executive produced by Steve James) screened at festivals across the globe and premiered on television in 2014. With a background in journalism, Laura penned revealing profiles and investigative features for numerous publications and has authored acclaimed celebrity autobiographies.
1. What initially sparked your interest in Edith and Eddie?
A friend texted me a photo of the couple that was circulating online when they got married—they tied the knot at ages 95 and 96—and I kept looking at the photo and wanted to know more about them.
2. How to did you first meet Edith and Eddie, and what was that first meeting like?
The person that posted the photo connected me with a family friend of Edith and Eddie and they invited me to go dancing with them. I hopped on a bus from NYC to Virginia and the opening scene in the film with the couple dancing is the first time that we met. Their affection for each other sparked smiles everywhere they went and it was beautiful to be in their presence.
3. How did Edith and Eddie, as well as their family, feel about you making a film about their lives?
Edith and Eddie were happy to share their story as was Edith's daughter Rebecca who was taking care of them with her daughter (Edith's granddaughter) Robin. They were loving and open. We soon found out that other family members were against the marriage and did not feel the same.
4. Why do you feel EDITH+EDDIE is an important film for the public to see?
At first, people will see that you can find love and live on your own terms at any age. Then as the story takes a sharp turn and we witness the nightmare that ensues after Edith's rights are taken away, we feel it's urgent for people to be aware of the legal guardianship system and how it's devastating families and elders' lives across the nation. Audience members have reached out after seeing the film saying it inspired them to talk with their own families about aging and end of life issues and to visit their loved ones more often—that gets to the heart of what it's all about.
5. What other types of projects have you directed in the past? How is EDITH+EDDIE different from previous projects?
My first film was a documentary feature called LUCKY (luckythedocumentary.com) spanning six years in the life of a dynamic young homeless mother in NYC. That film was also immersive, intimate and intense. EDITH+EDDIE unfolds so dramatically and unexpectedly in a short amount of time—it feels like a story that was meant to be told.