NYer Of The Week: Filmmaker Ruben Dario Cruz Turns Seniors Into Movie Stars
They're not your typical movie stars, but this week's New Yorker is making a group of Brooklyn seniors feel like they are ready for the red carpet. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
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This is not Hollywood. It is Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. But for a group of senior citizens here, movie making has become part of their everyday lives.
"They can't believe it. My grandkids, they saw the movie and they said 'oh my God grandma, you in jail!'" says senior Miriam Morales. "I said 'no, I'm just making a movie.'"
While running a theater workshop at the Cypress Hills-Fulton Street Senior Center, local filmmaker Ruben Dario Cruz saw talents emerging.
"As we worked on scenes and playing in front of the camera, I saw things happening, a change in them when they were in front of the camera. I was shocked at the sudden power that came out of them," Cruz says. "I think they were shocked."
Volunteering his time, Ruben helped the seniors write a script, cast roles and assign a crew. Soon, the senior center turned into a set and the short thriller "Hope's Revenge" began to come to life.
The center wasn't the only thing transformed.
"Esperanza, the star, she is 82. She walks with a cane. That woman has more energy than the rest of the staff and the cast together," says Executive Director Grace Pipitone. "You can't believe it. It makes them feel young, needed and useful."
"Seniors' lives are just as passionate as anyone else's," Cruz says. "And I think that's what we wanted to show in the film. They have lived their lives and there is nothing that really frightens them anymore."
Alone time was rare during filming. The center became a safe haven, free from the troubles many of the seniors face in the neighborhood.
"There has been problems with crime and fires. It's a depressed area in some senses," Cruz says. "But there is some vitality and life and good people here and right in the middle, you feel this calm energy. People are laughing. People are living."
So, for helping seniors in Brooklyn find their star power, Ruben Dario Cruz is our New Yorker of the Week.