The Film’s Public History
The film began its public life in the form of an eight-minute abbreviated version produced especially for the Elder Financial Protection Network’s 2011 “Call To Action” Conference in Los Angeles, California on November 2nd, 2011. Screened for an audience of 200 which included Mickey Rooney himself, both the film and its producer, Pamela S. K. Glasner, received a lengthy standing ovation.
It was at this event that Ms. Glasner met and subsequently interviewed / filmed California Superior Court judge the Honorable Kim R. Hubbard, Ernie and Lisa Rivard of the Millie-Billie Justice Project, and Elder Consumer Advocate Sandy Jolley and her sister, Julie Keegan.
The feature-length documentary premièred in Manhattan, at the Quad Cinema on April 13th 2012, to a standing-room-only house, again concluding with a standing ovation. The April 18th screening, also at the Quad, was followed by a panel discussion which included Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Loewy, who successfully prosecuted the famed Astor elder exploitation case, as well as Risa Breckman (Director of Social Work Programs and Education at Weill Cornell Medical College), Adult Protective Services (APS) Deputy Commissioner Lin Saberski, Aurora Salamone (Special Advisor at New York City Department for the Aging), Donna Dougherty (Attorney-in-Charge for "JASA" Legal Services for the Elderly in Queens, NYC), Attorney Joy Solomon (Director & Managing Attorney, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, NY), and Attorney Jean Callahan (Director of Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity at Hunter College, New York).
On Monday, April 23rd, Ron Meyer, then President and CEO of Universal Pictures telephoned personally with congratulations, calling the film ‘disturbing’, ‘eye-opening’ ‘well-put-together’ and ‘everything a documentary should be.’
On May 22nd, “Last Will and Embezzlement” premièred in Virginia (US) at the Hunters Crossing Conference Center of the Greenspring Assisted Living Community, with opening comments by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Eight days later, on May 30th, the film made its Indiana première at Holy Cross College, Notre Dame, at the Gerontology Conference of Michiana. Ms. Glasner was joined by famed San Diego Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood, nationally known for his advocacy and for successfully prosecuting elder abuse cases.
On June 18th, the documentary was endorsed by the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. Then in August, the Council on Social Work Education in Washington DC, which annually conducts a conference for over 3000 social work educators, administrators, practitioners, students, and other key decision-makers from around the world, chose “Last Will and Embezzlement” as one of their educational films for their 58th annual conference. Shortly thereafter, PBS’s acclaimed NextAvenue requested an article describing the experiences and impressions while producing the film.
On August 6th, 2012, Ms. Glasner received an unexpected and unsolicited invitation by the Script Librarian of the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences requesting an official transcript of “Last Will and Embezzlement” for the library’s permanent Core Collection. Two days later, on August 8th, she received a second unsolicited invitation from the Academy, this time for the film’s official poster and press kit, for its archival collection. “Last Will and Embezzlement”, now permanently ensconced in the Academy’s library and archival collection, is one out of only 967 documentaries (out of approximately 250,000 ever produced, according to the IMDb, the Internet Movie Database, which is the preeminent database of information related to films and television programs) to ever be honored in this manner.
Shortly after that, on August 20th, Ms. Glasner was invited to join the Writers Guild of America – West. The WGA is a labor union that represents and ensures the rights of film, television, radio, and new media writers who ‘keep audiences entertained and informed.’ The documentary had come to the attention of the Guild, who then reached out to the filmmaker. Because of the WGA’s stringent criteria for membership, screenwriters everywhere see it as independent confirmation of their professionalism, their success. It’s a true affirmation of your accomplishments, so naturally, I was flattered and excited and deeply grateful to have been accepted.”
On October 17th, distinguished author John Grisham and the Legal Aid Justice Center presented the film in Charlottesville, Virginia (US) at a symposium entitled “Protecting Our Seniors: Defending Against Elder Exploitation.” Approximately one month later, Video Librarian, America’s preeminent authority on educational films, gave “Last Will and Embezzlement” 3 ½ out of four stars. Mr. Phil Hall, reviewer and well-respected author, wrote that the documentary is a “timely look at a serious social issue,” and is “highly recommended.” Then, just before Christmas, Ms. Glasner wound out the year by announcing the home viewing DVD version of the film.
2013 began with “Last Will and Embezzlement” being screened at the Nancy Tessman Auditorium of the Utah State Law Library for an audience of 300 at an educational conference which included the Utah State Courts, Adult Protective Services and the Salt Lake City Police Department. Then on February 28th through March 3rd, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education screened “Last Will and Embezzlement” at their 39th Annual Meeting and Leadership Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida.
On May 1st “Last Will and Embezzlement” was named an Official Selection of the Manhattan Film Festival, and on May 16th, the film was screened at the North Port Public Library in North Port, Florida (US), and followed by an audience discussion/Q&A as part of their “Money Smart Week Educational Program”.
One of the year's biggest highlights came on May 17th when Ms. Glasner announced the release of “Silver and Gold – ‘Last Will and Embezzlement’ Discussion Guide”. It was written as a companion piece for the documentary to promote discussion and debate on such key issues surrounding financial exploitation as victim profiles, the perpetrators’ modus operandi, the symptoms and effects of these heinous crimes, the challenges of our present legal system, as well as potential solutions to this ever-increasing worldwide problem. It was released specifically on that date because May 17th was the birth date of Glasner’s father, who is featured in the film and was the impetus behind the film, being a victim of elder financial exploitation, himself.
In the world of elder exploitation, the most important day of the year is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15th. It was created by the United Nations to promote a better worldwide understanding of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the world’s senior citizens. As a victim’s daughter and to commemorate this day, Glasner addressed professional and public audiences in Washington DC and Phoenix Arizona. The DC event on June 13th, hosted by Wells Fargo Advisors and moderated by Washington Post reporter Michelle Singletary, included a panel discussion with Liz Lowey (mentioned above) and Barbara Dieker (US Administration on Aging’s Director of the Office of Elder Rights). At the Phoenix conference on June 14th, hosted by the local Area Agency on Aging, Glasner was the Keynote Speaker.
The Public Impact of the Film:
Barbara Dieker, US Administration on Aging’s Director of the Office of Elder Rights
(Regarding: Screening of “Last Will and Embezzlement” at the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day conference, Washington DC, June 13th 2013)
“I very much enjoyed (if that is the right term regarding a feature on elder abuse) and appreciated your film, as well as your responses to the questions you received regarding the horrific exploitation experienced by your family. What courage it takes for you to share this story with the world! Congratulations….your film provides testimony about what can occur to our elders. It expands awareness of the problem of financial exploitation, and no doubt such awareness will arm others with knowledge that may prevent them from becoming victims.”
Geoff Clark, Adult Protective Services Specialist (Eugene, Oregon)
“I just wanted to let you know I had contact with a family and elderly victim and suggested they watch your movie. The elderly victim was so embarrassed and ashamed and felt so vulnerable that she had allowed herself to be taken advantage of and wasn’t dealing with the feelings very well. Letting her see and hear about another senior (and a famous movie star who she recognized) made it much easier for her in the healing process and understanding what went on. The family tells me they have watched it several times and it has helped the victim cope with her feelings of loss and betrayal. Thanks for putting out such a touching and relatable film.”
Jennifer Merin, MFA; film critic and journalist, Los Angeles Times/About.com
“The film provides a very good context for the discussion of issues related to guidelines for care of elders with cognitive issues, and for necessary legal reforms.”
Barbara Peters-Smith, journalist, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
“A compelling look at a hidden threat. I was struck by its balanced tone … not one of those revenge documentaries.”
Karen Rinehart, syndicated newspaper columnist
“This documentary is a true gift and heart-wrencher. A must see.”
Judith Kozlowski, Counsel, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
“I have recommended the film in several different forums and will continue to do so. There is no better way to raise awareness about the terrible problem of financial exploitation than to keep mentioning it in every possible venue through every medium we can find. Thank you so much for sharing!”
Melissa May, Vice President, American Health Assistance Foundation
“Pamela Glasner (writer/producer) and Deborah Louise Robinson (director/producer) effectively grab the audience and make us care…then become outraged.”
Kelly Welles, President of Welles Financial Services
“My heartfelt congratulations to both of you for your monumental cinematic accomplishment to generate awareness and harness motivation for landmark social reform among the vulnerable elderly. Executed to perfection.”
· Boston College
· Burke Patch [Susan Larson]
· Caregiver’s Voice [Brenda Avadian, MA]
· Connecticut Episcopal Diocesan News [Karin Hamilton]
· Film Threat [Phil Hall]
· LeadingAge [Larry Minnix]
· MovieFone [Melissa May, American Health Assistance Foundation]
· Popcorn ‘n’ Candy [Popcorn Candy Girl]
· Popcorn ‘n’ Candy [Samantha Knowles]
· TCM Movies Online [Diane Rittenauer]
· TCM Movies Online [Mary Jo Riley]
· The Huffington Post
· The New York Times
· Trust Movies
Printed Media Reviews:
· Barbara Peters-Smith. “Is it elder abuse, or a bad decision?”. In: “Sarasota Herald-Tribune”, 11 September 2012, Pg. 8E, (NP)
· Chris Seymour. “Documentary Focuses on Those Who Swindle Seniors”. In: “Glastonbury Citizen”, Vol. 62, Iss. 9, 1 November 2012, Pg. 1 & 34, (NP)
· David Huck. “Manchester Woman’s Firm Details Embezzlement From Elderly”. In: “Journal Inquirer”, 25 July 2012, Pg. 3, (NP)
· John Michael Spinelli. “Elder abuse filmmakers use Mickey Rooney’s saga to educate, pass on lessons”. In: “Ohio Examiner”, 9 July 2012, (NP)
· Rick J. Scheidt. “A Criminal’s Dream”. In: “The Gerontologist”, Oxford University Press, Vol. 52, Iss. 5, October 2012, Pg. 724 - 725, (MG), ISSN: 0016-9013
· Tom Chang. “Elderly Scam Inspires Film”. In: “Englewood Sun”, Vol. 120, Iss. 302, 28 October 2012, Pg. 1 & 15, (NP)
Weill Cornell Medical College, New York
United Jewish Federation, New York Office
Manhattan District Attorney’s Office
San Diego District Attorney’s Office
Boulder, Colorado District Attorney’s Office
Administration on Aging, Office of Elder Rights
Penn State University Law School
Holy Cross College, Notre Dame
Utah State Courts
The Council on Social Work Education, Washington DC
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
American Health Assistance Foundation
The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut
Wells Fargo Advisors
Senior Care Authority
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