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Documentary on aging and intimacy to be screened

By BERT GAMBINI

Published May 7, 2015

“The need for companionship is a very human response that deserves attention.”
Deborah Waldrop, professor
School of Social Work

An award-winning documentary is coming to Buffalo for a special screening, thanks to some teamwork involving the School of Social Work and the Amherst Senior Center.

“The Age of Love,” Steven Loring’s perspective-shifting film on aging and intimacy, will be screened at 6 p.m. May 13 at the Amherst Center for Senior Services, 370 Audubon Parkway.

The screening is free and open to the public, but reservations are required by calling the Amherst Senior Center at 716-636-3055, ext. 3108.

The 78-minute documentary features interviews with seniors, ages 70-90, from Rochester, New York, who attended a speed-dating event, the matchmaking process where participants move from table to table, chatting quickly, trying to determine their compatibility with other attendees.

But what sounds like a light-hearted and sentimental look at relationships in later life is actually a moving exploration of an important human need that vocalizes what might otherwise be a silent narrative.

“The need for companionship is a very human response that deserves attention,” says Deborah Waldrop, a professor in the School of Social Work, who will be leading a discussion immediately after the screening.

Intimacy might not be immediately associated with the elderly — especially by those who are not elderly — yet this documentary, even with its share of humorous moments, is a serious attempt to break down that mythology so that intimacy and companionship are portrayed as eternal human constants.

“This desire never goes away. It’s not lost because of old age,” notes Diana Buchhalter, a graduate student in the School of Social Work.

Buchhalter is responsible for starting the process that arranged the Buffalo screening. After hearing a story on the radio about speed-dating that referenced the film she started looking for screenings. Although she found some in Rochester, she wondered if a Buffalo theater could host an event.

She called Waldrop who, in turn, reached out to Pamela Krawczyk, executive director of the Amherst Senior Center.

“Ironically, I, too, had been listening to the same radio broadcast and was moved by what I heard. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with Deborah on this event,” says Krawczyk. “Each day at the center I am witness to the importance of loving and caring relationships and their impact on well-being. Every human being has a need to love and be loved, and the love shared by older adults has a special richness — individuals connect deeply with their hearts.”

Director Steven Loring was particularly excited about the Buffalo screening because the unique partnership that brought it together can enrich the discussion in new ways.

“Most of the screenings have been targeted exclusively to an audience of seniors, but we want a wider audience that can open an intergenerational dialogue,” says Buchhalter. “This film is for everyone and it provides a perspective that is approaching for all of us.”

“We can learn a lot from older adults in terms of ways to grow and ways to appreciate the depth of intimacy and companionship,” adds Waldrop.