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COVID-19 And Conversion Therapy, ‘Some Kind of Heaven’, And A Look Into Music From The Inauguration

A group of older adults dressed in American flag patterns gathers around a sign that says "Singles Club."
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
The film 'Some Kind Of Heaven' follows the stories of the residents in The Villages, a retirement community northwest of Orlando.

Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky on COVID-19 and a new bill that aims to ban the practice known as conversion therapy. A new documentary film exploring life in The Villages. Also, virtual orchestras are a thing now.

On this Monday, Jan. 25 episode of Sundial:

COVID-19 And Conversion Therapy

The Florida Department of Health released preliminary data on vaccinations for the state — and more than 40,000 out-of-staters have received their first shot. Gov. Ron DeSantis has defended these vaccinations, pointing out that out-of-staters are just as likely to spread the coronavirus.

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“It was either a real oversight or just incompetence that we allowed that to happen. There has been a change where you have to be a Florida resident. Those making new appointments will have to prove Florida residency in order to get the shot at this time. But, some of the appointments scheduled for out-of-staters are going to go through because they did have their appointments,” said Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky, who represents parts of Palm Beach County.

If you’re looking for information regarding the vaccine, the best place to look is the Department of Health in your county, according to Polsky.

Another issue to tackle this legislative session is the practice known as gay conversion therapy, as the bans of the practice across South Florida have been lifted by a federal court ruling.

“The 11th Circuit ruled [gay conversion therapy bans] unconstitutional because it's a therapist speaking and they deemed it free speech. So, we tried to work around the 11th Circuit opinion,” said Polsky.

It is worth noting that the proposed bill bans any kind of physical components of the practice, as well as banning advertising for these therapists.

COVID-19 & Conversion Therapy

"Some Kind of Heaven"

A new documentary titled "Some Kind of Heaven" explores what it means to feel younger as you get older, documenting the lives of people at The Villages, America’s largest retirement community, located northwest of Orlando.

“One of the things that fascinated me so much about the place and made me want to go make a film about it, really was the way in which this community presents itself with a history that stretches back far into the times of Juan Ponce de Leon, finding the fountain of youth, supposedly. But really, the community's only been really around since the '80s and it started off as a trailer park,” said the film’s director, Lance Oppenheim.

The community was founded by Harold Schwartz, an American businessman and real estate developer, and his son. Schwartz had a vision of a “Disney World for retirees,” and accomplished this vision through the construction of three town squares. Each with a unique, fake history that completed the “artificial reconstruction of this American vision that maybe never quite existed fully,” said Oppenheim.

The film has plenty of characters who demonstrate the complexity of the residents who live in The Villages, and intimately delves into their lives.

“One part of making a film is that you really have to know when you turn off the camera, you continue to exist in your subject's lives. In this case, I spent a few months without a camera. When I first got to The Villages, I rented an Airbnb that I found online. I lived with these two retired rodeo clowns in this rented room. I kind of just went around town trying to meet as many people as possible and hearing people's stories,” Oppenheim said.

'Some Kind Of Heaven'
Some Kind Of Heaven

A Look Into the Inauguration Music

“Seasons of Love” was one of the songs to set the mood for President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The anthem became widely popular from the Broadway musical “Rent” in 1996, which followed the story of young artists in New York City living after the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Twenty five years later, the lyrics still resonate — “525,600 minutes — how do you measure a year in a life? ... How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?”

That song, along with another Broadway classic, “Let the Sun Shine" was performed virtually during the inauguration.

Ft. Lauderdale native Shelbie Rassler was the sound mixer for the performance.

“It’s not really something that you can kind of just throw together in one rehearsal necessarily,” Rassler said.

“But at the same time, I have had the opportunity to work and perform with people all around the world, which is something that I have never ever been able to do before and that is entirely because it's all remote … ironically it’s brought people together even when we're all so distant and separated.”

Rassler also arranged, coordinated and produced a number of performances during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a rendition of “What the World Needs Now” that’s gone viral.

A Look Into the Inaguration Music
The U.S. Capitol is seen at sunrise on Wednesday, two weeks after it was stormed by a mob of pro-Trump extremists.

Suria is Sundial's fall 2020 high school intern and a production assistant.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.