DO DECADES OF LIVE AND LOSS constrict our hearts, or might time develop them in unexpected ways? That’s the question filmmaker Steven Loring seeks to answer in “The Age of Love,” a documentary that follows the adventures of 30 seniors in Rochester, New York, who sign up for a speed dating event for 70 to 90 year olds.
The 90-minute film chronicles both the speed dating event and the nerve-wracking date drama that follows. It will premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival April 27, April 29 and May 1.
Speed dating is a matchmaking process that allows participants to meet a number of potential dating partners for a set time period, usually about five minutes. The organizer sounds a bell, signaling participants to move on to the next table. Each keeps a tally of those they would like to contact later.
Loring said the seniors shown in the film welcomed him into their lives and their homes. “They told me, ‘My own children don’t seem to care or think I have an emotional life anymore. But I’m still alive.’ It grew from there.”
His desire to explore the issue of love after 70 was sparked by the death of his father, which left his still-vibrant mother struggling to face her new life alone. That same year, Loring said, an 80-year-old uncle who’d never dated suddenly met a woman, and they fell ‘madly, adolescently in love.’
Loring learned by watching those closest to him that “wherever you are in life, you still need that touch.”
“As we lose things in life, as our friends disappear, that doesn’t lessen our desire to be connected, to share our life with somebody,” he explained. “There is still that same desire to be understood and valued.”
He searched the media for stories where seniors spoke openly about their intimate, emotional needs and found none. Then he happened upon a “healthy aging” coalition in Rochester that was sponsoring the speed dating event.
For nearly a month, Loring filmed without a crew, hoping to develop personal relationships with the seniors, allowing their stories to emerge as he followed their everyday routines.
“That’s all I want, someone to love me that I can love,” one 70-something woman says to the camera. “Find me a hot, sexy guy.”
Another sobs when she learns only two men wrote her name on their tally sheet. “I feel like I’ve been rejected.”
Emotionally it was like being back in high school, Loring said of the experience. Still, he recommends speed dating for those who have limited opportunities to find somebody.
“Seniors are hesitant to go on Internet dating sites. With speed dating, you have 15 eligible, ready-to-date people.”
Loring has partnered with AARP and other ‘healthy aging’ organizations to connect older adults through a national series of senior speed dating events. For more information go to theAgeofLoveMovie.com or email steven@theAgeofLoveMovie.com.