Nine to Ninety

Alicia Dwyer's Award-Winning Film to Air in January on PBS

Documentary asks what it takes to live, love, and die with dignity and grace in the modern age

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SAN FRANCISCO, December 4, 2015 – In this award-winning documentary directed by Alicia Dwyer and produced by Juli Vizza, we meet Phyllis and Joe Sabatini. At age 89 and 90, they live at home with their daughter Sarah and granddaughter Jacqueline. But as the family struggles to make ends meet and the grandparents’ health problems escalate, they are forced to make a difficult decision. Determined to free Sarah from the burden of caring for everyone from “nine to ninety,” Phyllis decides to move 3,000 miles away to live with her other daughter. But this means parting from Joe, her husband of 62 years. The choice leads them all to consider: what does it take to live, love, and die with dignity and grace in the modern age? Alicia Dwyer's film Nine to Ninety, co-produced by ITVS and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, will air on PBS stations in January [check local listings].

Beautifully filmed with intimate access, Nine to Ninety captures a rite of passage, which can be both terrifying and deeply meaningful. As our aging population grows at historic rates, at the same time that most families in the US are losing ground economically, more and more of us are experiencing this struggle to grow older in a way that makes sense to us and our loved ones. Phyllis and her family’s surprising choices about end-of-life care ignite both personal reflection and urgent conversations about how to age with dignity in America.

“50 million Americans live in multigenerational households – 40% more than in 1990,” said filmmaker Alicia Dwyer. “My hope is that this challenges us to action – to start the conversations in our own families that need to be had about end of life care, death and caretaking; to envision the society we want for our aging loved ones, our caregivers, our families; and to demand and contribute to a sea change of policies, resources and support to enable all of us to age with dignity.”

Nine to Ninety premiered in Toronto at Hot Docs Film Festival, won First Place Non-Fiction at USA Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Short at the IDA International Documentary Awards. The film was selected for the American Film Showcase and The Fledgling Fund Engagement Lab and is distributed for educational and community screenings with New Day Films. More information about the film’s engagement campaign is available at on PBS. Nine to Ninety is directed by Alicia Dwyer, produced by Juli Vizza, co-produced by cinematographer Michael Dwyer, and edited by Kate Amend.

About the Filmmakers

Alicia Dwyer (Director/Producer)  produced her first fiction feature film Pocha (Manifest Destiny) shot on location in México and Los Angeles for over nine weeks, which won the Audience Award for best fiction feature and a Special Jury Prize in directing at the Los Angeles Film Festival 2015. Alicia directed two recent documentaries, including Nine to Ninety, which premiered in Toronto at Hot Docs, qualified for the Academy by winning the USA Film Festival, was nominated for Best Short at the 2013 IDA International Documentary Awards and was selected for the American Film Showcase. Her feature documentary Xmas Without China premiered at SXSW and has broadcast on PBS and Al Jazeera English. Alicia’s work appeared in theaters nation-wide in the Emmy-nominated Bully (Independent Lens, 2014), distributed by The Weinstein Company, for which she directed key material with the main character. She was associate producer of the Emmy Award-nominated HBO series Pandemic: Facing AIDS and of the Academy Award-winning feature documentary Into the Arms of Strangers. Born in Santa Cruz, California, Alicia grew up in Australia, New York and Berlin. She studied German and Politics at Princeton University, and received her M.F.A. from USC film school. Now based in Los Angeles and México, Alicia has worked on many projects with filmmaker Juli Vizza and started Veracity Productions together with her brother and filmmaking partner Michael Dwyer, making cinema and media content for PBS, Interscope, The Jim Henson Company, The New York Times Magazine Online, and The California.

Juli Vizza (Producer) is an award-winning producer and editor. She won an Emmy Award for editing the 2002 Winter Olympics at NBC and has since been working as a producer for non-fiction and fiction film, television, commercials and music videos. Juli has produced films that premiered at the Sundance, Berlin and TriBeCa film festivals, and aired on Showtime and PBS. At Sony Pictures Entertainment, she worked on publicity campaigns for The DaVinci Code for the US and international markets, as well as the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, and other films including Stranger Than Fiction, Quantum Of Solace and Angels & Demons. Juli co-produced and edited the feature-length documentary for PBS, Xmas Without China.   

About ITVS 
Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds, presents, and promotes award-winning documentaries on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy® Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens on Monday nights at 10pm. on PBS. Mandated by Congress in 1988 and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, ITVS has brought thousands of independently produced programs to American audiences. For more visit

Posted on December 8, 2015