In a Nutshell

The Film Lab, thanks in part to a generous grant from the Asian Women's Giving Circle, produced a psychological drama written by Jennifer Betit Yen and directed/filmed by Youn Kim and Conor Stratton to help combat elder abuse.  The film, titled “The Opposite of a Fairy Tale” addresses elder abuse through a fictional narrative designed to increase awareness of the problem and to provide viewers with the motivation and tools to combat elder abuse and to create a dialogue and vocabulary for a widespread societal problem that viewers might never have before imagined.

What's the Story Behind the Story?

 A social worker, Celeste, befriends the woman at a nursing home and uncovers what most of America is unaware of - the all too typical and all too secret world of elder abuse.  The script was written by actor and Film Lab President Jennifer Betit Yen, based on her personal experiences.  The film is being made possible, in part, through a grant from the Asian Women's Giving Circle.  The film was directed/edited by Youn Jung Kim.  Click here for more on the cast and crew.

The Opposite of a Fairy Tale focuses on (1) changing community attitudes about elder abuse, (2) making Asian communities more accepting of survivors, particularly when women are the victims and (3) educating viewers on how to prevent and address elder abuse through easily accessible, entertaining and creative storytelling.  Read more about the genesis of the film here.

Many of us have been personally affected by elder abuse.  Please share your story here.

The First Public Reading:  August 18, 2015

The first public reading of the screenplay took place at AAARI-CUNY as part of the Film Lab's Unfinished Works screenplay reading and workshop series, featuring a star-studded cast of notables from TV, film and Broadway.  Click here to read all about it and see the photos!

Principal Photography Completed on the Movie: December 13, 2015

The movie has been cast, crewed and filmed!  You can check out the final cast and crew via the links above or the IMDb profile here.  Editor Youn Jung Kim has been hard at work, with the help of Director of Photography Conor Stratton, audio engineer Nick Bardo, and composer Nick Stubblefield to do all those things that happen in post production from editing to color correction to sound mixing to scoring.  The film is slated to premiere in the spring/summer of 2016!  Stay posted here and on Facebook at Facebook.com/AAFLTV for updates and behind the scenes sneak peaks!

The First Preview Screening

The New York Asian Women's Center and the Museum of Chinese in America teamed up to host the first preview screening of the film on June 16, 2016, in honor of Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15).  The preview will be followed by a panel of experts in the field, the writer Jennifer Betit Yen, and actor Fay Ann Lee, who is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Asian American Arts Alliance.  More information here.

Press

For more, click on the Press and Media tab, above. 

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Elder Abuse in America

I.  The Size of the Problem[1]

Elder abuse (mistreatment and/or neglect) is defined as intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (regardless of whether harm is intentional) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder.  Data suggests that female elders are abused at a higher rate than males.  In the United States, the 2010 Census recorded the greatest number and proportion of people age 65 and older in all of decennial census history: 40.3 million, or 13% of the total population.  By 2050, people age 65 and older are expected to comprise 20% of the total U.S. population. The fastest growing segment of American’s population consists of those 85 and up. [2]

II.  Asian American Women

Elder abuse among Asian communities is under-studied and under-reported.[3]   Abused elders of Asian descent, perhaps especially women, are frightened to come forward, not wanting to disrupt the family unit or bring shame to the family.[4]  Those of Asian descent may be less willing than other racial groups to report abuse because of cultural values emphasizing collectivism over the individual; distrust of law enforcement and similar agencies; and/or fear of being isolated.[5]  As explained by Rora Oh, “[C]ultural values can shape Asian American victims’ perceptions of elder abuse and determine willingness to seek help when the victims internalize their mistreatment according to Asian virtues of sacrifice and self-blaming. The victims regard elder abuse as a taboo because it is a direct contradiction of their values and expectations of how other people are supposed to treat the elderly with respect. As a result, this internal contradiction in the victims’ minds run contrary to the state’s goals of detection, prevention, and intervention. It may even turn out that the victim of elder abuse becomes resistant to voluntary and mandatory offers of help.”[6]

III.  To Combat Elder Abuse

The Opposite of a Fairy Tale will expose, through entertaining fictional narrative, the problem of elder abuse for all elders, with a focus on Asian American women - to debunk the myth it doesn’t exist and to highlight avenues of help for victims. As Oh explains, “[S]olutions range from restraining orders, conservatorship, involvement of multiple agencies, and seeking family and community resources. However, what is needed is looking at these resources with an understanding of how cultural values can filter how Asian Americans view elder abuse.”


[1] This section is taken from http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/Library/Data/
[2] According to the Asian American Federation from 2000 to 2010 “Asian seniors grew far faster than the other major race and ethnic groups, up 64 percent compared with the next fastest group, Hispanics, at 42 percent.”[3]http://ethanhtuan.journalism.cuny.edu/2010/12/14/elders-abuse-the-hidden-iceberg-among-asians/ [4] Id. 
[5]http://www.doj.state.or.us/victims/pdf/
women_of_color_network_facts_elder_abuse_2008.pdf 
[6] http://hardboiled.berkeley.edu/archived-issues/2013-2014-2/issue-17-3/elder-abuse/

How You Can Help

Please help us increase awareness of the systemic problem of elder abuse today.  Through this film, we hope to not only increase awareness of elder abuse but also to provide the motivation and tools for everyday people to both recognize and combat elder abuse.  We honor our elderly through this project and aim to create greater empathy, love and understanding between the young, the middle aged and the old.  If you would like to donate, please click here or email us at info@film-lab.org.  Thank you!