The founder and life behind the Ms. Senior Sweetheart Pageant, Lenny has been a Fall River celebrity since he was 25. Radio and TV commercials, singing, dancing and comedy routines have made Lenny the most recognizable figure in town. He has worked as an Army Supply storeowner, apparel salesman, wrestling announcer, boxing trainer, and an MC for various events including Teen beauty pageants. When he reached the age of 40, Lenny didn't feel like he "belonged on stage with all of those young women" and on a dare from The Lion's Club committee, took up a "little old lady" beauty pageant as a community fund-raiser. The astounding success of this event changed his life and the lives of the countless seniors who have competed in the pageant.
Last year Phyllis had to cancel two weeks prior to the pageant after suffering from a heart attack, but she made it back this year as a repeat competitor. After her one true love was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Phyllis spent her last years by his side, selling their house to pay for the nursing home. For Phyllis this pageant is more than about gaining a crown, it's about using what time we have left to its' fullest.
Recent widow and caretaker to her 94-year-old mother and developmentally challenged adopted son Frances. Frances was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer two years ago. We meet her in Houston where she declares that she is "not scared of dying." However, just weeks later, blood-work results are back and her rapid physical decline is shockingly obvious. She is unrecognizable by friends who grow increasingly unnerved by Frances' tragic depression. She is sure that this is her last time at the pageant. A front-runner talent to win this year, Frances will need to get it together if she is to take the crown.
Born in New York, residing in the Virgin Islands, Ida is loud, intelligent and insightful. Growing older for Ida has meant gaining in confidence and positive self- discovery. Ida is far from the days when racism towards her as an African-American woman made her doubt her beauty and self-worth. Now she is an active member of her community, radio host and extremely fun woman to be around. However Ida is losing her husband to the first stages of dementia and it is taking a toll on her. How can she deal with the inevitable difficulties of aging alone? And why, with all of her confidence, is she nervously awaiting judgment from a group of strangers?
Referred to by the organizers of the event as a "pageant junkie," Mid-Westerner Tamara Swihart is addicted to beauty competitions. Betty Boop impersonator, clog dancer, singer extraordinaire, and pastor, Tamara is a veteran of the Ms. Senior Sweetheart pageant. Tamara believes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and she keeps a critical eye on hers. But what separates Tamara from the crowd isn't just her looks. In addition to her devoted commitment to her community and her work in a local prison, it is her non-judgmental view of beauty and the honest value she gets from interacting with and other competitors that becomes a stark contrast to everything Tamara seems to represent in her seeming vanity and beauty.
After graduating from the University of California Berkeley with a degree in Rhetoric and Film, Walter Matteson began directing and producing short documentaries in the San Francisco Bay Area. After completing FIGURES AND LOOPS, a feature length documentary, exploring his childhood in juxtaposition with the obscure world of competitive artistic roller-skating, he decided to move to New York City. There, Walter began working at the Tribeca Film Festival. After two seasons with the festival, Walter went freelance and began working @radical.media in NYC, where he gained in-depth and worldwide documentary production experience while working with award-winning documentarians Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (BROTHER'S KEEPER, PARADISE LOST, METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER, CRUDE, and SAN QUENTIN FILM SCHOOL). At Radical, Walter worked on four seasons of ICONOCLASTS, producing episodes with Dr. Jane Goodall + Charlize Theron, Cate Blanchett + Tim Flannery, Chuck Close + David Blaine, and Ron Howard + Steve Nash - to name a few. Walter has just finished directing and producing PRETTY OLD, a feature length documentary that follows four diverse women (ages 67-84) competing in the 30th anniversary of the Ms. Senior Sweetheart Pageant in Fall River, MA. The film is Executive Produced by Sarah Jessica Parker (SEX AND THE CITY,) and Joe Berlinger. Walter is currently working as a story producer at Manifesto NYC and for the last year has been traveling the globe for another feature length documentary that will be completed in March of 2012.
JOSH ALEXANDER is a producer, writer and actor and one of the founders of Group Effort Films. As an actor he has appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway, regionally and in television and film. Credits include the film BACKSEAT (a film Josh also wrote and produced and which won the Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival and was nominated for the German Independence Award at the Oldenburg Film Festival). BACKSEAT was released theatrically in the US in 2008 by Truly Indie, a Wagner/Cuban company. Other film credits: MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL (with Dane Cook, Jason Biggs and Kate Hudson), MADE FOR EACH OTHER (with Patrick Warburton and Danny Masterson) GOYBAND (opposite Adam Pascal and Natasha Lyonne), among many others. Upcoming releases: THE BRIEFCASE (opposite Kip Pardue and Vincent Pastore) and the gay vampire fantasia VAMPERIFICA, in which Josh can be seen playing a German community college theatre director. TV: "Law&Order," "One Life to Life," "All My Children," among others.
Josh has written two screenplays with the acclaimed novelist Beverly Coyle, one of which SANDY FALLS, is in the process of being packaged. He also wrote and produced the documentary PRETTY OLD about the 30th anniversary of the Miss Senior Sweetheart Beauty Pageant, executive produced by Sarah Jessica Parker and Joe Berlinger (World Premiere, 2012 Santa Barbara International Film Festival). He received his BA in Drama from Vassar College and studied at the British American Drama Academy in London. Josh is a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
Daniel J. Chalfen is a co-founder of Naked Edge Films and an independent film and television producer. His most recent documentaries include Participant Media's "State 194" which premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival then went on to screen at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival; "The Revisionaries," which premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Award and was acquired by Kino Lorber, and which broadcast in the US on PBS' Independent Lens series in January 2013; "Code of the West," which premiered at SXSW in March 2012 and following a 12-city theatrical run was released by Sundance Artists Services in April 2013; and "Pretty Old," executive produced by Sarah Jessica Parker, which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January 2012, where it won the Jury Award for Best Documentary, and is being released in summer 2013 by GoDigital (US) and Grindstone Media (Canada).
Daniel's forthcoming films include Academy Award-nominated director James Spione's "Silenced" and Gabriel London's "The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest."
Daniel's earlier credits include the Tribeca Film Festival and Silverdocs audience award-winning "Donor Unknown" for ARTE, More 4, VPRO and PBS' Independent Lens; "GONE," which premiered at Tribeca in 2011, and was acquired by Discovery ID; Emmy-nominated "War Don Don," which premiered at SXSW, where it won a Special Jury Mention and was acquired by HBO Documentary Films; Berlin, Tribeca and Silverdocs awards winner "Budrus;" "The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan," executive produced by Danny Glover and currently being packaged for a fiction re-make; the Al Jazeera International Documentary Festival award winner "Meeting Resistance;" and the Academy Award short-listed "39 Pounds of Love" for HBO/Cinemax Documentary Films.
Daniel's non-fiction television series include "Happy France" for ARTE and "Ordinary People" which was broadcast worldwide.
Celebrated in film, television, and fashion, Sarah Jessica Parker continues to expand upon her impressive collection of credits with her remarkable range and effortless style. Next, Parker will lend her voice alongside Jessica Alba, Brendan Fraser, and James Gandolfini to the family-friendly animated feature Escape from Planet Earth, which The Weinstein Company will release later this year.
Parker served as a producer and reprised her Emmy award-winning role as Carrie Bradshaw in the screen adaptation of the hit HBO series Sex and the City followed by the theatrical release of Sex and the City 2. She won over critics and audiences alike in the series for which she was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Actress in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2001. Parker was also an executive producer on the series, which received the Golden Globe® Award for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and was honored with an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2001.
Other film credits include: Garry Marshall's New Year's Eve; Douglas McGrath's comedy I Don't Know Show She Does It, based on the critically acclaimed bestseller by Allison Pearson; Did You Hear About The Morgans opposite Hugh Grant; Smart People opposite Dennis Quad; Failure to Launch opposite Matthew McConaughey; her Golden Globe® nominated performance in The Family Stone; David Mamet's satirical comedy, State and Main; Paramount's 'Til There Was You; Tim Burton's Mars Attacks; If Lucy Fell opposite Ben Stiller; Tim Burton's Ed Wood co-starring Johnny Depp; The First Wives Club with Bette Midler, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn; Miami Rhapsody with Antonio Banderas; Disney's Hocus Pocus; Honeymoon in Vegas opposite Nicholas Cage; and her breakthrough role in L.A. Story co-starring Steve Martin.
Early motion picture roles include: Flight of the Navigator; Girls Just Want to Have Fun; Footloose with Kevin Bacon; Michael Apted's First Born; Robert Wiemer's Somewhere Tomorrow; and United Artists' Rich Kids with John Lithgow.
Through her production company Pretty Matches Productions, Parker has a first look deal with HBO to develop and produce films, television series, and long-form programming. She currently serves as executive producer on Bravo's "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist," now in its second season. The series features aspiring artists who compete for a solo show at the prestigious Brooklyn Museum.
Parker also lends her time to charitable causes, she currently serves as a UNICEF ambassador and November 2009 the Obama administration elected her to be a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Alison Benson began her film career at Tribeca Productions, where she worked on such films as "Marvin's Room" and "Wag the Dog." Throughout the 90's she obtained extensive production experience and in 1998 joined Stanley Tucci's production company First Cold Press Productions, developing documentaries, TV series and feature films. While there, she produced the Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award winner "The Mudge Boy." In 2005, Alison joined Sarah Jessica Parker at Pretty Matches Productions, which has an overall production deal with HBO to produce series and long form programming. Recently, Pretty Matches wrapped a second season on Bravo's competition reality show "Work Of Art: The Next Great Artist", on which Alison serves as Executive Producer.
Two-time Emmy and Peabody winner Joe Berlinger has been a leading voice in nonfiction film and television for two decades. Berlinger's films include the landmark documentaries BROTHER'S KEEPER, PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS, and METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER, a film that re-defined the rockumentary genre. CRUDE, about oil pollution in the Amazon Rainforest, debuted at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The film, which won 22 human rights, environmental and film festival awards, recently triggered a high-profile First Amendment battle with oil-giant Chevron.
In addition to his feature documentary work, Berlinger has created many hours of television as both a producer and director, including the Emmy-winning History Channel series 10 DAYS THAT UNEXPECTEDLY CHANGED AMERICA and the Emmy-nominated GRAY MATTER. He has directed and produced five seasons of the critically acclaimed Sundance Channel series ICONOCLASTS and directed/executive-produced the first season of MASTERCLASS, a new series for the Oprah Winfrey Network. His numerous HBO productions include ADDICTION, JUDGEMENT DAY and VIRTUAL CORPSE, and he has created series for VH1 and Court TV. His series THE WRONG MAN helped lead to the exoneration of Marty Tankleff, falsely imprisoned for 17 years for the killing of his parents.
Berlinger's dramatic television directorial credits include NBC's acclaimed hit drama HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET, as well as the short-lived UPN/Dick Wolf series D.C. Berlinger's Emmy-winning PARADISE LOST series for HBO helped spawn a worldwide movement to free "The West Memphis Three" from wrongful murder convictions. The director recently wrapped production in South Africa for a documentary about the 25th Anniversary of Paul Simon's landmark Graceland album.
Berlinger has also directed commercials and industrial films for such clients as Ford, Honda, Kodak and Tiffany & Co., and is represented for commercials by bicoastal/international @radical.media. That relationship was expanded in 2001 - Berlinger houses his production company, Third Eye Motion Picture Company, at @radical.media, running many of his television and feature projects through @radical's content division.
Berlinger's articles and photographs have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, ArtForum, Film Comment, and Aperture magazines. His book, METALLICA: THIS MONSTER LIVES, THE INSIDE STORY OF SOME KIND OF MONSTER, was published in 2004 by St. Martin's Press.
Joe Berlinger is a member of the DGA, the WGA, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the National Board of Review.
Leah Sapin is an independent collaborator, producer and outreach consultant who works with independent film projects and companies such as BBC Television, PBS' POV/American Documentary, Sundance Channel, Radical Media and Al Jazeera English. Leah was the Manager of the Brooklyn Film Festival from 2009 - 2011, and of the Media That Matters Film Festival from 2007 - 2009. Leah regularly serves on screening committees, juries and as consultant for POV, Rooftop Films, Chicken & Egg Pictures and Cinereach Film Fellows.
Matthew Prinzing started his career working with Albert Maysles and Antonio Ferrera creating a string of projects over 8 years for film and television including the Independent Film Channel series "With the Filmmaker: Portraits by Albert Maysles", John Zorn's "Masda Live at Tonic:1999", "It's an Adventure", with Wes Anderson and Bill Murray, and "The Gates" with artists Christo and Jean-Claude (which was the closing night film of the Tribeca Film Festival before airing on HBO).
He has also edited with Joe Berlinger for Sundance Channel's "Iconoclasts", with Rebecca Marshall for the biography of Jazz trumpeter Jonah Jones, "Jonah and the Wail" and most recently Matthew edited "The Naturalized", directed by Aaron Lubarsky and Executive Produced by Jon Stewart.
Trish Govoni is a graduate of both NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and the American Film Institute. She has shot numerous commercials including spots for Levi's, Cover Girl, and Sony, as well as public service announcements for the International Olympic Committee and the Youth AIDS Foundation. As Director of Photography on VH1's storytellers she shot concerts for Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Dave Mathews, and Tom Waits.
Her various documentary credits include Operation Fine Girl about the atrocities committed in the civil war in Sierra Leone, Falsify'n - the history of boogie woogie music, and Lives for Sale - the sex trade in America. Her recent narrative work includes projects with directors Dito Montiel, Trudie Styler and Carol Leifer.
Conceived in the union of a male sperm and female egg, Kris Kaczor began to divide in the summer of 1975, about the time U.S. President Ford posthumously pardoned Robert E. Lee, restoring full rights of citizenship. Born in Rochester, Michigan he attended public school and took his first job cleaning bird cages at Pine Street Pets. Shortly after, Kaczor obtained a long-standing position at Dairy Queen on Main Street. At this time, he also began playing rock music with his friend Brian Bazzy. Brian played guitar and Kris played bass. They would never play consistently in a band together. Kaczor's music is also known as Gigantic Hand. He has composed for fast cars, big stars and pretty old women, and loved ones - in Brooklyn, NY.
Benjamin Stark, began his movie career as an intern and PA in New York City. He then worked as an editor, cutting on such feature films as CHOKING MAN, CROPSEY, MAN PUSH CART, ROAD and THE PIT, as well as others. He transitioned to development and production by joining Pretty Matches Productions where he enjoys developing and producing feature documentaries, feature films, scripted television series and non scripted TV. He is an associate producer of Bravo's WORK OF ART THE NEXT GREAT ARTIST and the feature documentary PRETTY OLD.