The Forty-Year-Old Version
by director/writer/producer Radha Blank
I often describe The Forty-Year-Old Version as my cinematic love letter to New York, a place so central to my voice and upbringing, I still proudly possess the classic New York accent...something they say will be all but a memory in 20 years.
I was raised on the south side of Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the late 70's by artist parents who shaped my formative years with the films of Cassavetes and the sounds of Coltrane. My adolescence would find strong influences from late '80s NY rappers like Queen Latifah and KRS-ONE. But ultimately, I came up in a community of diverse creatives, immigrants and activists who helped shape the cultural identity of New York.
Because gentrification has found a lot of that authentic NY culture diminishing, sometimes the film feels like a Dear John Letter...an ode to an era when NY was more raw and less slick. It's why I shot on Black and White 35mm film—to not only pay homage to the classic NY films that shaped me, but to seal the city in a capsule...to retro fit the narrative into one that could've (and should’ve) been told 30 years ago.
The film is about an artist’s journey but it’s also about relationships—between old friends...between artists and art gatekeepers as well as the relationship between a person and their evolving identity looking back at them from a mirror.
While The Forty-Year-Old Version is inspired by the classic NY story of the down-and-out artist, I've rarely seen one where someone like me was centered. So we created a film that fixes a lens on a different angle of New York, on a different New Yorker vacillating between the worlds of Hip Hop and Theater in order to find her voice.
The Forty-Year-Old Version is inspired by my own personal story of loss, survival and self-discovery. But ultimately, this film is a reminder for anyone still pining away at a dream, that, in spite of contrary opinion, you NEVER age out of your passions.