Romeo

Born in Boston and raised in Haiti, Antonio’s nightmares of the abuse he suffered as a child drove him to work with violent men as an adult. Obsessed about saving men society would rather see incarcerated, Antonio takes an empathic view, going beyond weekly group sessions and into their neighborhoods and homes, blurring the line between counselor and friend. What is revealed over the next eight years, are the ironic parallels between his life and the men whose ideas about women and violence, he is working to change.

  • Lorna Lowe
    Director
    Shelter
  • Lorna Lowe
    Producer
    Shelter
  • Antonio Arrendel, Nadege Belizaire
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 45 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    247,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Other
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Festival International du Film Panafricain de Cannes 2016
    Salon Oslo, Cannes
    April 18, 2016
    European Premiere
  • American Black Film Festival 2016
    Miami, FL
    United States
    June 17, 2016
    Emerging Black Women in Cinema: The Kathleen Collins Award
Director Biography - Lorna Lowe

A native Bostonian currently based in London, Lorna began working in television in the mid-'90s at MTV Networks and E! Entertainment Television, then in film and special effects at Sony Pictures and Sony Pictures Imageworks. Lorna left Sony to enter law school at the University of Southern California. While at USC, she represented adults serving life sentences for murder through the Post Conviction Justice Project and later completed an International Law Programme at the Sorbonne in Paris. As a law clerk for the Alliance for Children’s Rights in Los Angeles, Lorna represented American children seeking guardianship and emancipation, and Immigrant children seeking asylum in the United States. Herself an infant in foster care before being adopted, the rights of children was of particular interest to Lorna as a law student and eventually became [her] professional focus. While at the Alliance, Lorna formed Lowe Road (now Dollface) and produced Shelter, a personal documentary on the after-effects of her search and reunion with her biological family as an adult. Shelter premiered at the Boston International Festival for Women’s Cinema, was named Best Discovery by the Boston Society of Film Critics and released theatrically in 2003. After law school, Lorna returned to Boston to join Thoughtbridge, a consulting firm which originated out of the Harvard Negotiation Project. A year later, while still producing though Lowe Road, she opened a private law practice specializing in the representation of children and parents in State Intervention cases, assisting many of her child clients in securing permanency through adoption as well as negotiating open and closed adoption agreements for parents. While producing her second film, Romeo, a film about a man dedicated to rehabilitating violent men (“batterers”), Lorna became a Filmmaker-in-Residence at WGBH Boston and became the first recipient of the Accelerating the Creative Production Grant from Women in Film and General Motors. In 2011, Lorna was elected to the Board of Trustees of The Flaherty, a non-profit media arts institution dedicated to the support and exhibition of documentary and independent film.

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Director Statement

I first learned about “Batterer Intervention” when I began practicing as a child welfare attorney in 2002. One of my early cases was defending a father who had lost temporary custody of his children to the state due primarily to his abuse of his wife in the presence of their children. The judge conditioned the return of custody of the children to my client and his wife on her participation in a support group for survivors of abuse and his completion of a 40-week Batterer Intervention Program. My curiosity in this “treatment” led me to begin observing groups at local BI programs, one of which was led by Antonio.

After a year of observing groups, we started production in 2002 and wrapped [production] in 2010, having the luxury of eight years to delve deeply into this world. Welcomed into Antonio's family and those of the men he had been working with, this intimate access revealed a unique and fascinating place - an entirely different and complex universe that existed less than a mile from my own home.

This issue, namely, what to do with “batterers,” continues to stump many public servants and agencies including police officers, social workers, judges, probation officers, lawyers and legislators. It has long been documented that mere imprisonment, without intervention, education or insight into behavior, not only fails to rehabilitate, but puts women (in this case) in more danger than before. Furthermore, there is still wide confusion over the difference between “anger management” and “batterer intervention,” as well as how to best serve and support women, men and children who are survivors of abuse.

I set out to make Romeo in an attempt to clarify at least one aspect of this highly complex issue. In the process, I met a man as complex as the issue itself.