A (Documented) Year Of Love

Film director Jill Andresevic shares her thoughts on romance, commitment, and the lessons to be learned from her documentary about the one thing all human beings desire: love.

By Kimberly Dawn Neumann

t's a love story — and all that the name implies.

In other words, love is a lot more than just a four-letter word leading to "happily ever after." With that in mind, the new independent film Love Etc. ( sets out to capture the reality of love blooming over the course of its many ages and stages. The result is a stunning snapshot into the love lives of a group of New Yorkers over the course of a year, and a closer look at the compelling (and often complicated) force that leads people to crave commitment — or coupledom, at least. Because regardless of race, orientation, religion or age, love seems to be a basic human desire; it's really that simple… it's just the stuff that happens in the middle of "making it work" that isn't necessarily all hearts and roses.

Here, the film's director, Jill Andresevic, shares what she learned in the two years it took her to complete this film. Get ready for some serious lessons about love... etc.

So, love is a subject that appears to be omnipresent for every human being in some form or another. Is this what inspired you to make this film?

The reason this movie happened is because the executive producer (Jonathan Tisch) and his fiancé at the time, Lizzie, made the decision to go to City Hall and stand in line to get their marriage certificate. And the day that they went down there — I'm assuming it's like this every
I've never seen a movie that examines everyday love with humor and authenticity.
single day, since it's New York City and it's very diverse — they saw that the room was filled with people of different ethnicities and different ages speaking different languages. And had they not felt so inspired by the experience of seeing this snapshot of New York in one room — all there for the commerce of love — this film would not exist.

But as far as the inspiration or subject matter, one thing that I think about right now is that there are three sectors that occupy our mind space when we're awake (not necessarily in this order or in equal proportion): career, friends/family, and whether or not we are involved with someone. And that assumes, of course, that we're healthy, because health is another issue. But otherwise, those main three sectors occupy a significant portion of each person's day-to-day experience, and that significance as part of our human existence — and how we live, what's important to us and what we need — makes this film, for me, very relevant and interesting, because I've never seen a movie that examines everyday love with humor and authenticity.

In breaking down the film's structure, what did you decide were the phases of love?

If you're an adult — whether you're living in the 18th century or now — you're going to be in one of the following phases: looking for love, finding love, keeping love, losing love, starting over again, ignoring love, or [suffering a] lack of love. Those are the only stages that I could think of in terms of one-on-one love. And then, in terms of the film, we were looking at the stages of life and the stages of love combined in a way which was also interesting, because the film spans a 71-year age range (since the film shows people from age 18 to 89), which is 71 years of experiences, collectively. And it's anchored by first love and growing old together with some different stages in between… so it becomes a snapshot of love's journey set against the backdrop of New York.

One of the couples in the film, Albert and Marion Mazur, had already been together for 48 years. Albert said it felt more like "48 minutes" — which made just about everyone in the audience cry. In this age of technological bombardment, do you think that people can still aspire to that kind of enduring love, or is it getting harder and harder to sustain?

I think people can aspire to enduring love. As the world gets more cluttered with commitments and digital distractions, however, I do think it creates another element that you can hide behind — that you have to push aside in order to have quality time with the person you are with. On the other hand, there are digital aids out there that really open up the possibility for people to meet other people in a way that never existed in the past — and I think that's very powerful. I have friends who have met the person they're with now based on an online dating service and they seem very happy and content; I don't think they would have met each other otherwise. So I think that as the digital world takes us away from our intimate time, it also creates an opportunity for other people to connect — which allows people who are super-busy to actually be able to date.

Albert said [in your film] that whenever he and Marion fought, once they were over it, she would say: "We start again from now," which I thought was a great lesson about love. Did you learn anything else from the subjects you filmed?

One quote that I thought was really poignant came from one of our youngest subjects, Gabi, who — at age 18 — said: "I think you always should have the hope, you always should have the courage. Love is like making a house; every day, you put in a little brick until you make it a house. So love is not 'oh my god, she is really pretty, I'm in love' — no, you're not. No, love is something that you construct, you create, you know. You make it with that person."

Wow, that's pretty insightful for 18! For our readers who are single and looking, what would you suggest that they keep in mind about love that you learned from the single/uncoupled characters in your film?

I like to tell people to have "emotional courage" when it comes to love. I think this is very important because people can be courageous physically, they
I don't think they would have met each other otherwise.
can be fearless in their career, they can be very confident in different aspects of their life, but I think that emotional courage is very different from physical courage. And emotional courage requires you to be vulnerable and willing to take a chance and open yourself up to the possibility of being rejected, or having it not work out or not getting what you want. But the only way you can get what you want (as far as having a connected relationship with someone else that you're just getting to know) is to be emotionally courageous. And if you're unwilling to be emotionally courageous, you're automatically stopping yourself from the possibility of getting that thing that you want — that everyone wants, that connected experience with another person that's emotional, physical, intellectual, etc. And so I think "emotional courage," or being "emotionally courageous," is a key thing for people to absorb if they're looking to meet someone and engage in a relationship.

After making this film, how would you answer the question: "What is love?"

Wow, that's challenging to answer! You know love is a feeling that is inexplicable and every single human on the planet desires it at some point in their life — if not their entire life. And it's one of the driving forces in all of our lives. And there is a mystery to it that poets and writers and artists have spent lifetimes trying to unravel. So, I think if people are troubled or challenged in their love-based relationships, they should not be so hard on themselves, because it's been an eternal struggle for many, many people for centuries.

Scott Ellis (the single gay man the audience sees starting a family in the film) told me in an interview at one point that when the fairy tale about love was written, they threw the chapter out about how much work it takes to make a relationship happen, which made me laugh. In Western culture, we grow up reading about Prince Charming and Cinderella and we think that there is some truth to that fairy tale. And who knows? There could be — but I haven't met anyone who's achieved that. I feel like this film shows people the different ways that love can unfold in real people's lives and that it doesn't have to be picture-perfect or a fairy tale. Because I think that in most cases — like 99.9% of the time — it's a lot of work. It requires time for your relationship to develop and for you to be able to communicate with each other effectively (and all these other things that are not easy things to do that aren't automatic). And to have a successful relationship is not just about chemistry; rather, you have to be successful in the everyday workings of love.

And what does the "etc." in the film's title refer to?

We really thought about the title, and we finally decided we liked Love Etc. because it represents every story in the film — from young love to a couple who's been married 48 years to a single gay man about to have a family. In every single story, they all have love in their lives in some way or another, but their "etc." is very different. In other words, my "etc." is very different from your "etc." in terms of love. Everyone's "etc." is unique, and I think that even though love is a big word, the "etc." personalizes the journey — each person's individual journey of love.

Kimberly Dawn Neumann ( is a popular New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications such as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Redbook, Maxim and frequently online. A certified dating/relationship coach, she's published two books: The Real Reasons Men Commit and Sex Comes First and is the founder of She's looking for love… and the etc.!

Love Etc. is open in NY, LA and other select cities.

Love Etc. is a witty, poignant and humorous exploration about the universal stages of love, depicted through five real stories over the course of one year in New York City. Young, old, gay, straight – everyone has experienced love – and the joy and frustration that come with it. From teen romance to a decades-long marriage; newlyweds to a recently divorced man, and even a single gay man so frustrated in his search that he chooses to have children without a partner, Love Etc. documents the intimate journeys of engaging characters aged 18-89 who reflect the city's diversity, and takes an honest look at life's most challenging pursuit.

print send feedback subscribe to
Would you buy someone a holiday gift that you've been dating for less than 6 months?

Yes, if I want the relationship to continue

Maybe, but only to avoid seeming rude

No, that's too early to exchange gifts

Browse singles in your area.
About | Your Privacy | Terms of Use
Contact Us | Advertise with Us | Become an Affiliate

Copyright 2011, L.L.C.

partner sites:  HSN  Citysearch  Evite  Expedia  Hotels  Ticketmaster  ReserveAmerica  Hotwire   LendingTree 
Entertainment  TripAdvisor  CondoSaver  TravelNow  ClassicVacations  LiveDaily  Udate