Next Year Jerusalem Feature Trailer (2012)

Feature trailer for Next Year Jerusalem.

Next Year Jerusalem tells the story of eight nursing home residents, average age 91, who make a pilgrimage to Israel. We follow the residents, their aides and nursing home managers from the planning stages of the trip through their experiences in Israel and back again. Each character surprises the viewer with earnest and nuanced reflections on travel, aging and hope.

The film intends to paint an honest portrait of life at life's end. Those who spend their final days in a nursing home face difficult questions: what to look forward to, how to mark their days. The promise of one last adventure raises the stakes. In the first act, we meet and befriend the travelers. We learn their histories, their daily routines, their philosophies. They share openly both their excitement and fears about the trip. We bear witness to the reality of planning the tour from the perspective of the nursing home: not only is the trip logistically complicated, but there are concerns that not all residents will be healthy enough to go, and the very real possibility that some may not return.

The trip to Israel evolves as a film within a film, dream-like, as audiences are offered a seat on the bus for the 10-day tour. Though we are in and out of museums, crossing Israeli landscapes from mountains to desert, the experiences of the trip itself are not the focus; rather they are a context for the more subtle insights revealed by our travelers along the way. Physical challenges are met and exceeded, new friendships blossom. Spiritual experiences, so deeply at the heart of any journey to the "Holy Land" are documented and presented in their complexity. These are individuals with personal theologies: some are Jewish, some Christian, others are non-believers. There is a tension at work here that is honest and revelatory. In one of the great spiritual centers of the world, their spiritual engagement is twofold: not only are they visiting iconic religious sites, but they do so with the humble awareness that they will never be there again.

Back at the nursing home at the end of a remarkable adventure, our travelers accept without grudge the routines of institutional living. Things "go back to normal" at the conclusion of the film but our travelers are not the same people they were before the trip. Next Year Jerusalem is less a story about tourists in a foreign land than it is a celebration of life, a meditation on the sanctity of human experience and a tribute to the wisdom acquired in the course of a lifetime.

1 min 34 sec


Posted On
January 30, 2014
David Gaynes

David Gaynes


November 10, 2012
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