This past Sunday, Appalachian Theatre of the High Country offered an online showing of Duty Free by Sian-Pierre Regis. This documentary follows a 75-year-old immigrant, Rebecca Danigelis, and her son Sian (the film’s director) as they navigate the world after Rebecca is suddenly fired from her long-term position as an executive housekeeper. In following Rebecca’s struggle to find a new job while trying to complete a bucket list, this film highlights the economic insecurity faced by an entire generation.

Rebecca is a hardworking, selfless, loving mother whose only goal had been to provide for her family. Despite her young, vibrant personality, she was let go after almost 40 years of service as an executive housekeeper at a high-end hotel. This sent her into a pit of sadness and confusion, often exclaiming, “I’m so scared,” over the phone to Sian. Years prior to this film, Rebecca drained her 401K to send Sian to college, meaning she had little to no money saved for her retirement. Now, with only $600 in her savings account, she struggles to pay her bills and take care of her first-born son, Gabriel, who suffers from schizophrenia. It was painful to watch her breakdown as she struggles to grasp the fact that she is unemployed. However, this is when Sian steps in to support and comfort his mother.

The film follows Rebecca for three-and-a-half years as she applies for jobs and tackles her bucket list with Sian, who uses a Kickstart campaign to fund her adventures and the film. Rebecca’s list includes things like milking a cow, skydiving, and, most importantly, reconnecting with her daughter, Joanne. At this point in the film, we start to learn more about Rebecca’s past. In her first marriage, she had a daughter with a man she ended up divorcing. Shortly after this, she was diagnosed with cancer and fell extremely ill, which makes your heart sink. As her health declined, Rebecca sent Joanne to live in England with her sister. It was clear how much this still affects Rebecca, even though she never says it out loud. She touches on many of her past struggles in the film’s entirety, but it never manages to shake her sprightly attitude.

Sian, while heavily involved in his mother’s journey, allows her to take center stage for this work. This makes the film even more moving as the audience quickly picks up on his love and adoration for his mother. His support facilitates the blossoming of a new woman. As the film evolves, so do Rebecca’s emotions. She goes from being filmed on an iPhone and sobbing over her lost job to jumping out of airplanes and laughing while being filmed by a crew. Her adventures even gain publicity as she is featured in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning and numerous viral articles. It was incredible and inspiring to see Rebecca turn her life around despite the troubles she faces along the way.

Rebecca’s journey sparks inspiration in many people’s hearts as her fame grows. Countless people who are experiencing a similar situation reach out, motivated by Rebecca’s story to take action. This puts the real issue of ageism and discrimination in this country into perspective. Every day, older generations are being laid off or fired from their jobs for trivial reasons. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for this generation to find new jobs as well, due to the toxic mentality around hiring an older individual. The sad truth is that this is the reality for many people above the age of 60. It is vital to promote films like this in order to raise awareness surrounding ageism.

This documentary will have you experiencing a whirlwind of emotions in only 71 minutes. If you are looking to laugh, cry, and smile within a minute of each other, this is the film for you. I urge you to watch this beautiful tribute, and to find inspiration behind Rebecca’s story.

Duty Free is available to rent or to buy on the film’s website, Apple TV, YouTube, and Google Play.