Los Angeles, CA, March 26, 2018 – Wendy’s Shabbat, a documentary short about the joys of community and connection as we age, will make its New York debut at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, April 21 (see additional screening dates below). Directed by Rachel Myers, the film was one of only 55 chosen to be showcased and was selected from a total of 4,754 submissions.
The ultimate family affair, Wendy's Shabbat (www.wendysshabbat.com) features Myers’ 88-year-old grandmother, Roberta Mahler, a retiree from Long Island, New York, and is executive produced by Myers’ 67-year-old mother, Abby Myers (currently living in Oregon). Myers has been working in the film industry since 2002, but this is her directorial debut, and she incorporated the talents of three generations of creative women in her family to make the film. Capturing touching moments of faith and friendship, and most certainly tradition, Myers’ thoughtful narrative focuses on a group of seniors including Grandma Roberta, who for the past eight years have participated in this weekly ritual at the Wendy’s fast food chain in Palm Desert, CA near their Sun City homes.
Outspoken and wildly charming, the seniors, most of whom are in their eighties and nineties, congregate to light Shabbat candles, say the blessings, share challah and grape juice (no wine allowed at Wendy’s) and to enjoy popular menu items as the Baconatorâ, Frostyâ, chili, baked potatoes, French fries and more (which at less than $10 per meal is the best deal in town).
"What is especially moving about this group of friends is their perspective and how precious time together is in the later stages of life,” Myers said. She added: “That’s the reason why sharing this experience with my mother and grandmother was so important – making this film together with three generations has been very meaningful. Shooting the film was joyful and emotional -- and the movie has really seemed to touch the lives and hearts of audiences who have seen it.”
The film has already had an outpouring of support from Jewish communities with screenings at the Palm Springs Jewish Film Festival, the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, the Chicago Jewish Film Festival, the Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, the East Bay International Jewish Film Festival, the Santa Barbara Jewish Film Festival and the Washington Jewish Film Festival, and last month’s Sedona International Film Festival as the film’s first premiere at a non-Jewish Film Festival.
Additionally, Myers' film has launched a movement of sorts, with the trailer garnering hundreds of thousands of views across Vimeo and YouTube, and with messages of encouragement pouring in from both young and old, living in both the United States as well abroad. Those who have genuinely loved the film have been inspired to request private screening events, synagogue dinners and, in some cases, have been empowered to adopt the practice on their own, gathering for Shabbat dinner at local restaurants.
Myers said. "As storytellers, we can only hope to be witness to the kind of humanity I experienced while filming Wendy's Shabbat. Although it was very personal, the act of gathering in community is something everyone can relate to -- it brings to light how food and friendship can unite people and how sharing stories builds connection. It's a reminder of why the little things matter and a hopeful testament that a small moment of understanding can go a long way in making people feel embraced in the solitude of advanced years. Although aging can be a very isolating and sometimes a sad or challenging topic, I think this film is the exact opposite - honest but also uplifting and celebratory - and a document to the fact that you can find connection in the most unlikely of places."
Losing her husband after 60 years, Roberta Mahler, 88, seeks community. She finds it with a group of local Jewish senior citizens who celebrate the Sabbath at their local Wendy’s.
Every Friday, just before dusk, these senior retirees congregate at the fast food restaurant to usher in the Sabbath (Shabbat) with blessings and candles over burgers and fries.
This is a story of rediscovering the joys of community and connection in older age, and in the longing for ritual, however unorthodox it may appear.
Rachel Myers, Director
Abby Myers, Executive Producer
Juliana Schatz, Field Producer
Dana Turken, Editor
Jeanne Tyson, Director of Photography
Dylan Chapgier, B Camera
John Clifton, Colorist
Ellis Burman, Sound Mix
Garrett McElver- Music Supervisor
Documentary / 10 min. / English / 2018 / Digital
04/21/2018, 6:30 PM at REGAL Battery Park City
04/24/2018, 5:30 PM at REGAL Battery Park City
04/25/2018, 5:00 PM at REGAL Battery Park City
04/28/2018, 3:45 PM at CINEPOLIS Chelsea
A director and production designer whose work spans film, television, stage, and live events, Rachel Myers received her M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama. She is the chief creative officer of 3 Penny Design, and her film and television credits include the SXSW and Independent Spirit Award-winning film, “Short Term 12,” starring Brie Larson, and Hulu’s five-time Emmy nominated original series, “East Los High.”
Myers’ award-winning experiential design company, 3 Penny Design, has conceived and produced live events, brand activations, pop-ups and interiors for Crayola in Times Square, VIDCON, The Women’s March, LA and more. Myers has Art Directed for “The Primetime Emmy Awards,” “The Golden Globe Awards” and commercial clients include ADIDAS, Ray Ban, ESPN, Volkswagen, Marriott, DAQRI, Hewlett Packard, Turbo Tax, Wrigley’s, Gevalia, CVS, Soul, Pampers, L’Oréal, Schick, Soap and Glory, Taco Bell, Macaroni Grill and Getty Images. She has designed for regional theatres including the Center Theatre Group, South Coast Repertory, The Geffen Playhouse, The Shakespeare Theatre, The Getty Villa, East West Players, Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center and the Los Angeles Ovation Awards.
Myers is a member of the Art Directors Guild Local 800 and United Scenic Artists 829. She is currently developing her narrative feature-length directorial debut.
Lauren Friedman for Wendy’s Shabbat