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What is in the Air from AFI: about Backseat Bingo

The 2004 AFI Film Festival at Hollywood’s ArcLight Theater showcased a variety of short films, from topics on the CIA to the forgotten suicides of young stars. On Wednesday, November 10 and Saturday, November 13 the LA Film School hosted a group of the AFI shorts. Off to Laemmle’s ? They all should be. But for the time being we can just admire the dedication and creativity these young filmmakers share. One such filmmaker, Liz Blazer, created an animated short on a solo mission.

BACKSEAT BINGO, a humorous, yet truthful account of how senior citizens view their inherent desire for sex and the opposite of it, focuses on the tagline: Sexy Senior Seeks Same. The animated short documentary is a cutout film. As the sole animator, director, and producer of the film, Liz scanned watercolor drawings, fabrics, and printed textures into the computer. Computer software programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects allowed her to assemble and animate the drawings.

Her unique vision was a result of months of research, looking for the perfect group of, as Liz says, “passionate, vital seniors who were willing to talk about sex.” Her luck came in tow and Robert, a 93 year-old composer, was more than willing to participate in Liz’s revelation of a film that could brighten people’s eyes for days- people of all ages. Robert then introduced his friend, Liz, to his group of friends.

Liz was fortunate to find creative talent for her documentary without having to find actors. All of the senior citizen participants were artists, including musicians, writers, and one sculptor. They were also all part of a Walt Whitman literary club, the famous 19th century poet who brought us such collections as Leaves of Grass. So right away the artistic and literary air amongst these friends provided for ideal subjects to Liz’s creation.

Since the final film would be animated, the style helped to encourage honesty amongst the seniors. BACKSEAT BINGO has a WHEN HARRY MET SALLY flair to it, but Liz’s choice as to why she made it an animated documentary, comes from her personal experience. Her grandfather, who at 82 years old, fell in love! She explains, “After his wife of 60 years passed away he was in a deep, doleful depression. Then he met Ruth, who moved into his apartment complex, and my grandfather was instantly transformed.”

Liz wanted to focus on preconceptions society has towards senior citizens, when it comes to aging, love, and companionship. The style of animation helped “to show these folks in the wisest, vital, and compassionate way that I could- literally animated.” Liz explains the 80 and 90 year olds the public sees on TV and in the movies are “portrayed as sickly or mentally impaired. I created sweet animated caricatures so as to allow the audience to focus on what the characters are actually saying about companionship. She emphasizes “the universality of romantic longing” to act as the only judge on senior citizens.

Liz’s film is beautiful, stylistic, and actually a very simple notion- a human notion that transcends age. She allows the audience to dismiss inhibition and to stir up what’s truly in their heart, whether they are 16 years old, 37, or 98. Her grandfather and Ruth’s “youthful, silly, puppy love” caused “the hairs on top of his head to grow for the first time in half a century.” Liz’s fortuity in meeting these seniors expressed the essential nature of life and love at any age to an audience beyond Liz and her family.

This film was inspired by Sid and Ruth.
To contact Liz Blazer:

Michelle Paster is a frequent contributor to
She writes for “The Orange County Metro” and OC’s “Beach City Styles Magazine”

USA, 2004, 6 min, Color, 35 MM
International Shorts Competition, 2004 AFI Festival
ED: Peter Alton
MUS: Kyle Newmaster & Gordy Haab

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