Duty Free


Millions of Americans who have reached the age of retirement struggle to make ends meet and are forced to go back into a competitive job market that privileges youthfulness over experience, tech-savviness over worldliness. One such person is Rebecca Danigelis, a single mother in her seventies who has spent the past three decades of her life supporting her kids through her meager earnings as a hotel housekeeper in Boston, but who must look for a new source of income once she is fired for “insubordination.” Rebecca’s 32-year-old son, a New York-based TV journalist named Sian-Pierre Regis, owes his career to her (since she cashed in her 401K to pay for his college education), and — though he has no savings himself — assumes the responsibility of helping her not only to regain employment but also to fulfill many of her lifelong ambitions in the form of a “bucket list.” As the director of this moving tribute to a woman who, threatened with eviction but eager to see what the next stage of her life holds for her, stands in for countless other laid-off workers and victims of ageism, Regis gives his septuagenarian mother a second chance at life. Or rather, contributors to the filmmaker’s Kickstarter campaign make that opportunity possible; one that allows Rebecca to check off items on her list and to reconnect with family members from whom she has long been separated (including a daughter that she had to give up at an early age and who has been living in England ever since). Fans around the world — from Argentina to China and Sri Lanka — who have likewise encountered age discrimination have been encouraged to reflect on their own experiences after witnessing Rebecca’s story. Because older persons are often perceived as being “less productive, less valuable to society and a burden to the economy” (to quote a 2017 report from the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing), the differential treatment to which they are subjected is sometimes thought to be “justified.” However, this lovingly crafted film reminds us that human rights are not reserved for younger generations and should be guaranteed to those whose advanced years are, indeed, a sign of their dignity or worth as human beings.

– David Scott Diffrient

Duty Free Poster


Sian-Pierre Regis
United States
71 minutes