SHANGRI-LA: a film about love in a retirement home.

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In a retirement home, Joe learns that he doesn’t have long to live, so he turns to his best friend, Bernie, to help him find love one last time.

After a series of humiliating attempts, Joe realizes that Bernie is intentionally sabotaging his romantic efforts leading to a falling out.

But when Joe discovers that Bernie’s been  in love with him all along, will he still have time to reconcile with his friendship and find love?

Director's Statement

I was always excited to see my Grandpa Joe. He had wanted to be an artist, so he really encouraged my creative side. The way Joe told stories; I knew he was the same guy when he was young. He would say ‘You remind me of how I was,’ so I thought, ‘When I grow up, I’ll be like Grandpa.’ I still feel that way.

When he moved into a ‘home,’ I wasn't as excited to visit him. I didn’t want to be there and neither did he. Before he moved, he would do all the things he loved, swim, make art and visit loved ones. Even though he didn't stop loving those things, in the home, he had to adapt. Older people are often made to adapt in ways they don't necessarily choose, and I think this is where the disconnect with younger people starts. Since we haven't experienced it yet, it's hard to imagine ourselves as old.

I was glad when he became infatuated with a resident. I didn’t think people in their nineties still wanted sex. I felt guilty not visiting him more often, but when I did, I connected with his stories because they were all about gossip and romance - just like high school. This I related to. I realized that when I’m old, I’ll still love and want the same things. I’ll still be the same person I am now... just older.

While researching for the film I was invited to lecture about elderly representation in senior homes. Elders excitedly shared their stories; including a 95 year old resident who told me when she was young, she met an old woman who told her, “If you don’t want to grow old, remember to think young and you’ll stay young.” That became my North Star.

I want to tell a story that will encourage people to think about their elders, to consider that they might grow up to be just like them, and when that day comes, they’ll be the same people they are now, wanting the same things they always have... they’ll just be a little older.

- Rhys Raiskin, Director




Rhys Raiskin grew up in the LA home of a vegan lawyer, an astrologer mother and a pious sibling. He was brought up on obscure movies, fueling a lifelong obsession. After studying anthropology at UCSC, he returned to LA to help support his family and began working in development at Muse Productions. He ditched the office to be on set and found his way to producing independent films. Eager to direct, Rhys enrolled in the AFI and is basing his thesis on his grandfather - the man who inspired him to be a storyteller.



Hannah Rice is a writer originally hailing from Auckland, New Zealand. She graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Cognitive Science.  Recent work in Los Angeles includes writing and starring in the short film The Chop, which is set to be released in early 2024. Predominantly working in comedy, Hannah is thrilled to be co-writing Shangri-La, having fun bringing to life the high school sex comedy in the world of a retirement home.



After studying Business Administration at UC Riverside, Jeffrey pivoted his life in pursuit of filmmaking. He has worked as a freelance production assistant on various commercials, music videos, and proofs of concept. He has also taken the lead in writing and producing a variety of short films. Beyond his dedication to film, Jeffrey also values serving his community; he is an eagle scout, and the vice president of the Monrovia Public Library Board. He’s excited to be a part of Shangri-La because it shows that even someone who believes they have shined their brightest light can still exceed their limitations.



Kevin has been an LA based cinematographer since graduating from his undergraduate program of Television, Film & New Media at San Diego State University in 2016.  He is currently studying for his Masters in Cinematography at the American Film Institute. His experience covers music videos, to commercial work, all the way to visual narrative storytelling; the latter of which he seeks to spend a majority of his career pursuing and mastering. The reason the story of Shangri-La really drew Kevin in was because he grew up around a retirement home since his mother has worked in one from when his family moved from Sweden to America in 2000.  A lot of the charm of the film brings Kevin back to having the privilege of being around the elder generation when he was younger.


Production Designer

Learning about more facets of life and understanding diverse perspectives on people would be her lifelong lesson. Skye, a Production Designer based in both Los Angeles and Shanghai, finds fulfillment in the narrative journeys guided by characters. Eager for more cinematic adventures, she delights in crafting the natural or adventurous worlds that unfold within the stories she brings to life. Embracing love and beauty sustains youthfulness and vitality, and the inhabitants of the Shangri-La nursing home are simply indulging their desires in the later chapters of life.



Manny Rothman has been editing for as long as he can remember. Driven by experimental storytelling and compelling narratives, Manny has always had a knack for telling unique stories in unique ways. His favorite films are the ones that bring out the transcendent of everyday life. Manny has recently completed work on his debut feature, Understory, which he co-directed and edited. Manny’s interests led him to become deeply interested in Shangri-La's moving story and its capacity for ripe experimentation.

The American Film Institute

“If you’re at AFI, you’ve earned that spot, but so has the talented individual sitting next to you,” says alum and director Todd Field (Little Children, TÁR)

Some notable AFI alum: Patty Jenkins, Darren Aronofsky, Caleb Deschanel, Brad Falchuk, Rachel Morrison, Scott Frank, Janusz Kaminski, Mimi Leder, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Robert Richardson, Edward Zwick and many more.

Your Donation

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The American Film Institute is a Government recognized 501(c)(3) non-Profit Organization and holds tax-exempt status. Donations toward SHANGRI-LA may be tax deductible under Section 170 of the U.S. Tax Code. A letter of acknowledgment from AFI will be sent for all contributions.

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American Film Institute
c/o 2411 Shangri-LA
2021 N. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027