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First love and faith

Independent film looks at aftermath of divorce

February 12, 2008
Ashley Gurbal,
Filmmaker Dave Christiano based “Me & You, Us, Forever” on the story of his own first love. But, he said, the movie could be about anyone’s.

The movie opens Friday at the Carmike 8 in Altoona, one of 83 cities nationwide selected for the first run. It follows the lead character, Dave, a Christian man, through the aftermath of his divorce. Though Christiano also is divorced, he said he had the idea for the film long before he was ever married. He started writing it about six years ago and based it on a relationship he had as a teenager in western New York.

‘‘(The main character)’s wondering why God allowed a divorce, wondering why he didn’t marry his first love,’’ said Christiano, 51, said in a telephone interview from his office in Arden, N.C. ‘‘He tries to look into that and really struggles. It’s, ‘How do I deal with the pain?’ ... It’s written from the heart. The first love’s hard to beat.’’

The reason some idealize their first love may be more chemical than romantic, said Robert Matchock, a psychology professor at Penn State Altoona. Matchock said falling in love causes the brain to release pleasure-inducing chemicals.

‘‘When the relationship is over, this flood of euphoria-inducing chemicals may run dry,’’ Matchock wrote in an e-mail. ‘‘And it is possible to experience something similar to withdrawal symptoms from a very addicting drug. ... For most, falling in love for the first time comes at a young age. During these impressionable years, this roller-coaster emotional ride may have residual, long-lasting effects well into adulthood.’’

While Dave (Michael Blain-Rozgay) contemplates his first love, he meets Carla (Stacey J. Aswad) in a divorce support group.

‘‘She’s a strong woman, a self-knowing person,’’ Aswad said of her character. ‘‘She really sees the experience of her marriage and divorce for what it was. She’s very honest, very compassionate.’’

To play Carla, Aswad drew on her own life experience. She’s also divorced.

‘‘I’ve really gone to a place of healing,’’ she said. ‘‘It was certainly a painful time, but I believe the times we’re challenged are made for us to grow and be made, not broken.’’

“Me & You, Us, Forever” will be shown on a digital projector, which is why Christiano approached Carmike Cinemas with his film — it has digital capability and has taken on a “plethora of digital projects,” said Bob Scarborough, film buyer for Columbus, Ga.-based Carmike.

Digital capabilities aside, it isn’t unusual for the company to open a small, independent, faith-based film.

‘‘We’re happy to play faith-based films,’’ Scarborough said. ‘‘There’s more of an audience.’’

Christiano said he called several area churches to let them know the film would be shown at Carmike 8, including Greenwood United Methodist Church. The Rev. Jeff Wakeley said the direct-to-churches marketing approach is “relatively new.”

“Considering some of the other stuff that’s out there, this is an alternative for people in my congregation,” Wakeley said. “It’s only been within the last three to five years that these movie marketers are reaching out to churches.”

Although Dave is a Christian, Christiano said ‘‘Me & You, Us, Forever’’ is more of a love story than a Christian film.

‘‘This is a film someone would want to see even if they’re not Christian,’’ he said. ‘‘They’ll see (Dave) struggle and some of the answers he finds might help them.’’

As for Christiano’s first love? He contacted her when the film went in to production to make sure she was comfortable with the story.

‘‘I hadn’t seen her in 20 years, and I find out she’s divorced,’’ Christiano said. ‘‘I’m in touch with her, but she lives in western New York and I live in North Carolina. She’ll see (the movie) when it opens.’’

Mirror Staff Writer Ashley Gurbal is at 946-7435.

Article Photos

Writer, producer and director of “Me & You, Us, Forever” Dave Christiano talks with actress Kathryn Worsham during filming. Worsham plays Mary, the main character’s first love.

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