"Down in Delray" featured in Palm Beach Pulse

Steve Shaw was happy to work as a camera assistant for "Down in Delray" which was featured at the Delray Beach Film Festival. Here is a great article about the project:




Festival features documentary on feisty Delray Grandma
By Leslie Gray Streeter
March 19, 2010

http://www.pbpulse.com/movies/2010/03/19/festival-features-documentary-on-feisty-delray-grandma

Russell Geltman came to Delray Beach to get his rambunctious grandmother on film, to have the story of her and their family permanently recorded. He left with a full documentary that focuses not just on family history but on his grandmother’s still very vibrant present.
“She’s a ham, first of all,” Geltman, a filmmaker from New Jersey, says of 89-year-old Gert Abo, his grandma and the star of Down in Delray, which is featured on Thursday at the Delray Beach Film Festival. The event goes Monday-Friday.
“I’ve been telling everybody that this woman is in her 80s, and that she gets up every morning and rides 20 miles with her bike club, that she bellydances,” says Geltman, 29. “I figured ‘Geez, you put her in front of a camera, and it would be a great thing.’”

The film festival, now in its fifth year, was founded by local veterinarian Dr. Michael Posner. It features five days of films shown at locations throughout Delray Beach, including Old School Square, as well as appearances by actors Barry Bostwick (Spin CityRocky Horror Picture Show) Sharon Gless (Burn Notice and Cagney and Lacey) and Jessica Walters (Play Misty For Me and Arrested Development). Gless and Walters are to be honored with lifetime achievement awards.
In Geltman’s documentary, which is part of a showcase of Jewish-themed films, Abo is seen in all of her exuberant glory, with her friends at the Kings Point community, with her boyfriend, on excursions through South Florida and telling stories about her life. Geltman says he got the idea from recording a great-uncle who passed away not long after filming him.
“I saw how important it was to get to know about his life,” he says. “I spent three hours filming him but never did anything with it, and I thought, ‘Boy, I should really do something with my grandma.’ It was kind of a no-brainer.”
And that’s probably true, considering his subject. Abo, who her grandson describes as “always positive, always funny and joking around,” is part of a very active community of seniors. “It’s a cliche, but everyone says that people go to Florida to die. Her group didn’t. They all hang out there, all have boyfriends. It’s like summer camp.”
Geltman says he isn’t sure that his grandmother really got that he was planning to make a movie about her, but “was just happy that I was gonna come and spend some time with her.”
She wasn’t the only one in for a surprise. What Geltman thought might be a 15-minute chat on camera became hours of conversation and discovery featuring Abo, her friends and eventually other members of his family. For instance, Abo, he says, talks about being in the U.S. Army, where “all the other girls were in the typing pool, and she went to the armory and asked if she could be a truck driver. I learned stuff like that. She’s always been bold. And now I know she’s not just a happy old lady.”
Geltman says that the movie has brought him and his grandmother closer — “If something funny happens, she gives me a call” — and that the two chat about everything, including her love life.
“She’s always made those little remarks, comments about sex, that threw me off when I was younger,” he admits. “But she’s just like that.”
Geltman is now taking a break from documentaries and is starting to work on some narrative projects, but says he’s “very proud” of Down in Delray. “I spent the last two years of my life on it.”
While Abo still might not grasp that she’s about to be a film festival star, Geltman says she’s very excited about the documentary’s premiere. “They put up fliers around her community, and I think she’s realized that this was something semi-legit,” he says.

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