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Light Years profiles three people who have sculpted their lives with creativity and a knack for reinvention, revealing that when we change our minds about what’s possible in our lives, we change our lives…at any age. All three are over 75 and continue to find ways to tap their own potential, nourishing their lives and those around them. The film presents an antidote to our outdated notions about aging as its stories unfold with wisdom, humor, and a few surprises.
Directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker Claire Marie Panke, Light Years introduces Dee, a writer and professor who savors her life-long passion for African dance; Anita, whose work as an actress, dancer, playwright and poet spans eight decades and a host of adventures; and Paul, who started painting at 51 and helps to redefine “retirement.”
Dee, Anita and Paul know that whether eighteen or eighty, we all need meaningful relationships, a sense of purpose, and the chance to express ourselves. They show that midlife and beyond can be a time of rediscovery and renewal, tapping into the ways Baby Boomers are reframing what our later years can look like. This is the heartbeat of Light Years: the choice to remain engaged in community, to continue learning, giving back, and growing as we grow older.
As their stories evolve over several years, Dee, Anita and Paul face challenges and threats to their independence. Each responds with a resiliency that transcends those challenges and affirms our potential for renewal at any age.
Claire Marie Panke is a graduate of Georgetown University and worked as a writer/editor and photographer before earning a second degree in nursing, specializing in newborn intensive care (NICU). Claire studied film at NYU, and has served as cinematographer, producer, associate producer, and nurse/consultant on film and television productions, and directed three short documentaries: Liberty Street, Christina, and Glacé. Her first feature documentary, A Chance to Grow, followed three families in a NICU, and was broadcast on The Discovery Channel, National Geographic Television, and other international venues, and was awarded a CINE Golden Eagle.