Duty Free, filmmaker Sian-Pierre Regis’ touching story of his mother’s struggles to find a new job at the age of 75, and the adventure he gives her to help her reclaim her life will World Premiere online at DOC NYC 2020.
Duty Free follows the story of a British immigrant, Rebecca Danigelis, who was suddenly let go from her job as a hotel housekeeper in Boston at 75 years of age. Working day-in and day-out for over 55 years, and raising two kids on one paycheck for much of her life, meant she had no savings in the bank when the rug was pulled out from under her. And, like many in her generation, she didn’t have the means to support herself on social security alone.
After a lifetime of having something to wake up for, something with physical demands, a place to go, and people to lead, Rebecca is devastated, suddenly finding herself adrift in the stress of the unknown. How will she apply for jobs when she can’t even type her résumé? Who will hire her when most employers are looking for younger talent?
As Rebecca struggles to find work, her New York-based son, Sian-Pierre, decides to explore this new chapter of her life with her. After all, she worked hard all of those years to give him and his brother every opportunity she could. And, with a thriving journalism career, Sian-Pierre knew that his mother’s story wasn’t going to end this way. He packs his bags and heads back home to get his mom back on her feet and help her reclaim her life.
As Sian-Pierre looks for ways to support Rebecca, he gives her an adventure spanning two continents that uncovers a surprising family saga spread over three generations, a story that reveals the compromises and injustices placed on single mothers, the persistence of sexism and ageism, and the difficult dance of duty and freedom where the older and younger generations come together.
Director Sian-Pierre is currently a Film Independent Documentary Fellow 2019 and Firelight Media Fellow 2018-2020. He is also an award-winning journalist, on-camera personality, and cultural critic with an undying love for both pop-culture and social responsibility. He has been a contributor for CNN, HLN, MTV and CBS, covering stories of youth political activism and pop-culture. He received and Honorary Doctorate from Colgate University in 2018. Duty Free is his feature-length documentary debut.