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Director's Statement

I first met members of the Hazzard family many years before I began making Love & Diane. I was teaching as a volunteer in a homeless shelter in Harlem developing a photography workshop for children, which later turned into a Super8 film project. Diane's two nieces and nephew were in my class. They had been living in the shelter since their mother, Victoria (Diane's sister) had died. Over a period of several years I became close to these three children. I began a film project with them about the experience of growing up in a shelter. When I went to graduate school in upstate New York, we planned that the eldest girl, Selina, would join me after high school and attend a local community college. But she had a year of high school left and decided to move in with an aunt I had never met - Diane Hazzard. Shortly after Selina moved in with Diane and her daughter Love I went over to see them.

When I met Diane, her children had been living with her for two years after a six-year separation. Love's return home had been particularly traumatic. For much of those two years she was a runaway, often living on the streets. I sensed the intense love that Diane and Love had for each other as well as the anger and guilt over the past. I was drawn to focus the film on their story. Both Love & Diane were very interested in the idea of making a film about their experiences; both felt they had something important to say. I was particularly struck by their strong desire not to be seen as "statistics" or to be seen stereotypically as doomed, as well as their conviction that a film telling the unvarnished truth would serve an important purpose.

A highly personal film that looks at the lives of a mother and daughter over several years, it also explores, from their point of view, the extraordinary challenge of retaining autonomy in the face of a social "system" that has almost limitless, often arbitrary power over the circumstances of their lives. Diane's children and home could be taken from her in an instant based on a misunderstanding that could take years of struggle to undo. Diane and Love are inspirational in their refusal to give up. Equally extraordinary was their commitment to making this film true to what happened and how they felt.

I wanted as much as possible to immerse the viewer in Love & Diane's experience of the world. I avoided interviews with "experts" on the social policy issues that came up. I did not try to make this an objective film. But the film is also not purely observational; an important part of the film is the sequences that are about the past as remembered by the family. The past is a vital part of this story. Love & Diane both search constantly for explanations in the past as they fight to change their lives in the present.

In the end, the film is an attempt to do justice to what I learned from Love & Diane.

- Jennifer Dworkin







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