A 75-year-old mom teams up with her son to reclaim her future in “Duty Free” on Independent Lens – Nov. 22 at 10 pm

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Film Explores Ageism and Economic Insecurity Through the Eyes of a 75-Year- Old Woman and Her Inspiring Journey to Reclaim Her Life


An intimate exploration of ageism, care, and economic insecurity, Sian-Pierre Regis’s deeply personal documentary “Duty Free” captures the journey he embarks on to help his 75-year-old mother after she is fired from her lifelong job. Together, the pair go on a series of bucket list adventures that bring them closer and help her to reclaim her future.

Older mom with adult son taking selfies at Buckingham Palace
Rebecca and her son, Sian-Pierre, at Buckingham Palace on a Bucket list adventure

Praised as “warm, personal, and socially relevant” by The Hollywood Reporter, “Duty Free” will make its broadcast debut on PBS’s INDEPENDENT LENS on November 22, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.  The film will also be available to stream on the PBS Video app.

At 75 years old, Rebecca Danigelis suddenly finds herself let go from her longtime job overseeing the housekeeping department at a hotel. A single immigrant mother who had spent her life making tremendous sacrifices to provide for her two sons, she is left with scant savings, fear, and doubt as she questions her future, and suffers rejection in her job search.

“Duty Free” introduces audiences to Rebecca at this moment of crisis, and her son Sian-Pierre, as he helps her navigate this time of transition. To lift her spirits, he encourages her to make a list of all the things she could never do in her years of working, and he sets about making them happen. The film traces their shared journey over the next few years through Sian-Pierre’s personal recordings of their conversations and adventures. While undertaking new experiences ranging from milking a cow to taking a hip-hop dance class, the pair also experience unexpected fame as their endeavors attract press attention from around the world.

Below the surface of some of the more lighthearted adventures Rebecca and Sian-Pierre take on, “Duty Free” also explores the broader societal issues that converge on Rebecca’s circumstances: ageism, economic insecurity, and care. As Rebecca’s journey gains public visibility, others in her age group reach out to her to share their own similar stories of losing their jobs and being plunged into uncertainty, and the accompanying frustration and fear. Through the experiences of one woman, “Duty Free” uncovers the financial instability faced by millions of Americans living with no safety net, and the country’s plight of ageism and elder care.

man and older woman ina tandum skydive
Rebecca skydives

“When my mom and I first set out on this bucket list adventure together, we couldn’t have imagined where this journey would take us and the outpouring of support and dialogue it would spark in the broader community around these issues of care and insecurity,” said Sian-Pierre Regis. “In this country, we struggle to really recognize that older people have value. I hope that through my mom’s experiences and this film, more people will be able to have intergenerational conversations around aging and equality and look for ways to ensure our elders are truly seen, valued, and provided for.”

“Duty Free” was an official DOC NYC 2020 selection, and also played at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and Miami Film Festival in 2021, to widespread acclaim.

In addition to its support from ITVS, the film also received funding from The WNET Group’s Chasing the Dream, a public media reporting initiative examining poverty, opportunity and justice in America.

Visit on INDEPENDENT LENS for more information about the film.