Golden Threads

Growing old in America through a profile of the life of lesbian activist Christine Burton.

Film Signature Image
Premiere Date
June 8, 1999
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1999 Council On Foundations-Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1999 Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival-Best Documentary
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1999 Outtakes-Best Female Feature
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1999 The Dallas Lesbian & Gay Film Festival-Best Female Feature
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1999 Columbus International Film & Video Festival-Honorable Mention
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2000 GLAAD Media Awards-Best Documentary
  • Producer

    Lucy Winer

    Award-winning, critically acclaimed filmmaker Lucy Winer’s previous work has been called “warm, witty, and genuinely touching” by the Los Angeles Times, “hilarious” by the Hollywood Reporter and “intriguing, often hair-raising” by The New York Times. Winer served as series producer and program director on the groundbreaking ITVS series Positive: Live with HIV, Show more which was awarded a Golden Apple at the National Educational Film and Video Festival. Winer’s other films include the controversial feature Rate It X, an ironic critique of sexism in America, Greetings from Washington, D.C., which won the Outstanding Film of the Year award at the London Film Festival for its chronicle of the historic lesbian and gay political march on Washington D.C. and Silent Pioneers, an Emmy-nominated documentary on lesbian and gay seniors. Show less


    Karen Eaton

    Karen Eaton is a multi-media graphic designer and artist with 20 years experience. She was the founder and president of Canard Design, Inc. a multi-media design studio in New York. Eaton served as associate producer on Rate It X and Tales of an Exhausted Woman, as well as art director on Silent Pioneers.

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    The Film

    A former horse farmer, actress, businesswoman, college teacher, and nun, Christine Burton was 72 years old, and increasingly lonely living in upstate New York, when a lesbian networking service returned her application and check with a note: “Have you made a mistake about your date of birth? Nobody wants to meet lesbians older than 50.” Rather than admit defeat, Burton turned rejection into inspiration, launching Golden Threads several years later after turning 80, with the motto “You’re never too old to love or be loved.” Today, the group’s quarterly newsletter connects more than 1,600 women worldwide. Each summer, this unique organization holds a weekend celebration in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

    Golden Threads chronicles the group’s ninth annual weekend celebration, attended by lesbians from all over the country. With the irrepressible Burton presiding, the women “no one was looking for” gather to discuss the realities of growing old and to share their memories of lesbian life. Smashing stereotypes of seniors as bland, sexless beings, the women meet, dance, and flirt, thrilled to be surrounded by kindred spirits. Ruth Ellis, who at 96 is the event’s oldest participant, takes a break from dancing to shoot pool in the bar and rib her opponent. Meanwhile, as filmmaker Lucy Winer grapples with her own dread of aging, her wry, self-reflective musings provide a witty, bittersweet counterpoint to the weekend’s joyous communal spirit.

    The film takes a serious turn when Burton suffers a massive stroke 24 hours after her victorious Provincetown weekend. Suddenly, this fiercely independent woman is left unable to walk, talk, read, or write.

    Yet even in illness, Burton’s everyday heroism shines through. By the film’s end, Winer has survived her midlife crisis and Burton, spurred on by physical therapists and her own indomitable life force, is undergoing a remarkable rebirth.