A granddaughter honors Sylvia Weinstock and the mother-daughter bond in film

When the quarantine hit, the famed cake designer Sylvia Weinstock (who died last November) and her daughter, Tribecan Janet Isa, were stuck inside as we all were, but in their case in neighboring apartments on Leonard. So they decided to fully cohabitate and Janet’s daughter, documentarian Dana Reilly, caught much of it on film.

The result, titled “Favorite Daughter,” is an endearing, funny and poignant look at aging, sex, cooking, finding love, and of course the mother-daughter bond.

“I thought they might drive each other crazy,” says Dana of the moment she heard of their plan to share one apartment. “As soon as I could I drove to New York from Texas to be with them.”

The 20-minute film, which was just licensed by MTV Documentary Films and is now up for several awards, will be screened starting today through Sept. 22 at the IFC Center at Sixth Avenue and West 3rd. I watched it several months ago and I can say it is so worth seeing. Women, bring a tissue. Tickets are here. There will be a Q&A with Dana and Janet and moderated by Alex Ronan following the 12:55p screening tomorrow (Saturday).

Janet did the initial filming on her iPhone, breaking the fourth wall at one point to tell viewers how she surreptitiously marked the vodka bottle. After that, the film is really just one gem after another. At one point Sylvia, whose was married to her husband, Ben, for 69 years, relates the concept of marriage to the whipped combination of ingredients that is mayonnaise. Janet, whose own marriage ended in divorce, notes that if you leave mayonnaise out too long you can get really sick. “Don’t leave it out,” Sylvia retorts. “You have to cherish it.”

Dana ended up spending 18 weeks in the apartment, carved out of two trips to the city with 14 days of isolating each time so she could join their bubble. It was one of those decisions that may never have come about was it not for the pandemic..

“The global lockdown in 2020 prompted me to turn inward and I decided to turn the camera on the most important relationships in my life,” Dana said. “I also felt so much anxiety about my own future — and knew spending time with my mother and grandmother would provide some reassurance.”

For me, at 55, it was one of most hopeful looks at aging I have seen, and I found it so reassuring. Weinstock was 90 when the film was shot and so vibrant and just brilliant.

“At this point, I’m 90, my husband is dead two years, I miss him terribly,” Sylvia says in the film. “Am I contented? I am satisfied in a sense that I feel complete. I have a full life, and I was taught to be independent and I am.”



  1. Hi!
    I think you have the location of IFC wrong. It’s at 6th Avenue & W 4th Street.