2013-07-19 / Community

Robert Sarnoff 's ‘ROMEOWS’ Opens At Cinema Village

By Susan Hartenstein


The ROMEOWS -- a band of brothers, for all times. The ROMEOWS -- a band of brothers, for all times. “I am very proud to have a film playing an unlimited engagement at The Cinema Village,” says Robert Sarnoff of his movie, “The ROMEOWS (Retired Older Men Eating Out Wednesdays),” opening Friday, July 19th at the prestigious theater at 22 East 12th Street. “I hope all Rockawayites will come out on the ferry to enjoy it.”

The ROMEOWS is a self-named group of several vital, active, funny, literate, knowledgeable septuagenarians who have remained friends for more than 50 years. As a mainstay of their 1950s Brooklyn neighborhood brotherhood, they eat out together just about every Wednesday at one of a few saliva-inducing restaurants.

What Sarnoff shows us is a band of Brooklyn buddies who formed a house plan, won the All College Athletic Trophy, graduated from Brooklyn College together, schmooze, kibitz, discuss world events, politics, philosophy, baseball, kids, grandkids, the relative pleasures of the food at one Chinese restaurant as opposed to another. He allows us entrance to the loyalty, intelligence, years of practical experience, vulnerabilities, frailties, strengths, humor, unguarded intimacies of real people who could be our fathers, grandfathers, brothers or husbands. Senator Barbara Boxer, who appears in the film, is married to one of The ROMEOWS and adds her insights regarding these enduring friendships.

Sarnoff has made an entertaining film here. Beyond that, he has a point to make. He is, after all, not just an observer; he is a participant. These are his buddies, his ROMEOWS.

“People of a certain age have become invisible in our culture, are no longer respected. The importance of the film,” says its creator, “lies in these words expressed by one of The ROMEOWS, ‘If not us, who?’ in terms of discussing solutions to the problems of the world.” Sarnoff adds, “Maybe I’m trying to erase a stereotype. Don’t stick a fork in us yet.”

“The ROMEOWS” has earned many accolades for Sarnoff. They include the first Spirit of Queens Filmmaker Award in 2011 from The Queens World Film Festival, Official Selection at The Palm Beach International Film Festival and a sold-out screening at The Movies of Delray Florida. At the urging of those interested in the film, its creator has expanded it to theatrical length – running time 80 minutes. Through the vast majority of the well-paced movie the camera captures the men breaking bread and each other’s chops, at ball games, Nathan’s, at a Brooklyn College

50th reunion, playing basketball in a schoolyard. In the one-on-one private studio interviews, “I was able to pull the guys out a little further. There are certain moments that are quite moving, revealing; a couple of times where the audience is struck silent.”

“The ROMEOWS” has proven inspiring to many, as gleaned from focus groups. Sarnoff has been told by young people who primarily communicate with each other ‘digitally’ that they see the pleasures of intimacy in the real world act of speaking directly to a person, prompting them to physically get together more with their friends. Other people declare they are going to look up old schoolmates or relatives they haven’t spoken to in years. Some get hungry after seeing the movie and go out to a restaurant …with friends.

“One of the reasons I made the film,” says Sarnoff, “is because sometimes I would look at these Mount Rushmore faces – weathered, pained, filled with pathos, wisdom; but behind them I’d see the mischievous eye of a teen, a first generation son of immigrants, all of whom in one way or another found success.”

What does Sarnoff hope? “I’d love everybody to walk out of the theater happy, moved, touched, transformed. Great reviews would be nice, the buzz to be, ‘The ROMEOWS’ is the refreshing summer offering – the daring indie choice. I could also see it as a series. Remember ‘Men of a Certain Age’? This could be ‘Men of a Certain Ice Age,’” he muses. “Or perhaps a reality series.”

For more information about “The ROMEOWS” and screening schedule visit: cinemavillage.com/chc/cv/show_ movie.asp?movieid=2851 or call Cinema Village at 212-924-3363

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