Brooklyn-based Argentine director and screenwriter Romina Schwedler, whose debut micro-short film made her a SHOOT Magazine New Directors Showcase Honoree in 2014, shines a light on ageism with her new comedy short “Now You See Us”, premiering today at the 8th Annual Chelsea Film Festival, “One Of The 10 Best Film Festivals in North America" as per USA Today. This year, due to safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is taking place virtually. 

Now You See Us' timely story kicks off as two actresses “of a certain age”, played flawlessly by Barbara Miluski and Caroline Ryburn, bump into each other at the minuscule waiting area of a casting office located inside a grim, solitary New York City building where an audition is supposed to take place. 

As the afternoon progresses and their quarrel endures, these lifelong rivals begin to realize that they are in the presence of a significantly larger threat: A society that finds them invisible!

And so, the line between fantasy and reality begins to smear: Is anyone coming for them? Are they stuck in limbo? And what exactly is wrong with the lights?

Light and its absence are cleverly used in illustrating the protagonists' reality and the vision (or lack thereof) of the world around them, as is the use of black and white, and the occasional moonlight-like illumination, the moon being another leitmotif throughout the film. 

“Now You See Us” is based on the short play “Boom,” written by Barbara Miluski.

As an aging actor, in recent years Barbara found herself getting progressively less work, particularly in commercials. Now, as affirmed by MassMutual Financial Group: “Senior women fifty and older control a net worth of $19 trillion and own more than three-fourths of the nation’s financial wealth;” and as stated by Marti Barletta of Primetime Women: “Once the college bills are out of the way and children launch their own households, the discretionary spending power of fifty-plus women soars; they spend 2.5 times what the average person spends, making them the primary buyers for computers, cars, financial services, and many other big-ticket categories.”

So why does their demographic continue to be excluded from ads publicizing these very products? Yes, some advertisers seem to be finally catching on, but there is still a long and bumpy road ahead. 

One day, Miluski, who is also the producer and one of the stars of the film, was strolling down the street when a millennial man (who was not looking at his phone), marched straight into her, then apologized and admitted… “he simply did not see her.” Well, Barb is not exactly a petite woman; she also happened to be wearing a brightly colored blouse! But none of this mattered. This Baby Boomer had just been made aware of her new status: She was officially “invisible.”

Committed to raising awareness about age discrimination, especially when it comes to women, now-very-visible Barbara Miluski made it her mission to hire not only a female director, but also as many talented women as possible both on set and in post-production. She needed a female vision and perspective on the topic, but just as vitaly, she saw this as an opportunity to help the ongoing strive for female representation in the industry.

The play was thus adapted for the screen, directed, and also edited by Romina Schwedler, who was touched and inspired by Barbara’s story while getting ready to wrap up an intensive festival run with her prior film “The Visit,” a psychological drama short starring Academy Award® Nominee June Squibb (Nebraska, Shameless) and Sean Maher (Serenity, Firefly), which gained entry into 47 film festivals, among them Oscar® Qualifying HollyShorts, Cinequest, and St. Louis International Film Festival, as well as the SAG-AFTRA Short Film Showcase and Catalina Film Festival, earning 12 awards, 16 nominations, and 5 special mentions (Awards include Best Director, Best Short Film, and Best Overall Festival Film).

In only 11 minutes, Schwedler takes us on a captivating ride which begins in a dreary world and gracefully turns into a most enchanted one, a voyage rich in social commentary about a significant section of our population that is consistently discriminated against, misrepresented, and also stereotyped, just as these two actresses are in the role they are auditioning for.

The film features exquisite work by Cinematographer Danna Kinsky, Sound Mixer/Designer Ash Knowlton (Silver Sound), Colorist Jenny Montgomery (Company 3), and Composer of the Original Score Itamar Ben Zimra.

“Now You See Us” is available 10/15 through 10/18: Access Chelsea Film Festival Screenings and Livestream Special Events on FilmFestival+