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Oscar-Nominated Director Searches for City's Lovelorn for Documentary

 Oscar-nominated director Christian Frei is making a documentary about the lovelorn of New York City.
Oscar-nominated director Christian Frei is making a documentary about the lovelorn of New York City.
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Christian Frei

NEW YORK CITY — Meet New York’s lovelorn — men and women of all ages who have been left by a partner and face a deep longing and unhappiness.

Oscar-nominated director Christian Frei is searching for the heartbroken for a new documentary “Lovelorn in New York,” a film that focuses on Big Apple residents who have recently been left by loved ones.

Fascinated by lovesickness, Frei, a freelance filmmaker based in Zurich, said he wanted to explore “one of the strongest feelings on Earth.”

“It’s an addiction, it’s a pain, it’s a longing,” said Frei, who was nominated for his documentary “War Photographer” in 2002.

While the Swiss director has stories from more than 40 individuals, he’s still searching for more and encouraging New Yorkers of all ages to contact him. Many of their stories will be kept anonymous, he said.

Discovering “a certain loneliness in the city,” Frei picked Gotham for his project, hoping to capture the city’s stressful environment and the overwhelming pressure to socialize.

The participants, some of whom have been participating in the project for over a year, write down their emotions in an online journal that can only be read by Frei and his team.

The experience of penning their thoughts in a private blog post, particularly during troubling moments, is cathartic for the lovelorn, Frei explained. Some have even looked back on past journal entries and seen a change in themselves, he noted.

And while Frei said he’s spoken to all the participants at length, he insisted that he’s just asking questions — not giving advice.

“I’m not a therapist,” he said.

The director is still looking for contributors, preferably ones who have been left very recently or remember the experience well, and even those for whom it has turned into an obsession.

"We've been listening to many people who talk about extremes of heartbreak, but it's been difficult to hear from men whose behavior got out of their control, they stalked, or fantasizes about it,” said Frei, in an email.

“We know stalking is bad, but we know so little about what's going on in someone's head when they're doing it even though they know it won't help them get their love back, when it's self-destructive,” he said, adding that he would allow these people to remain anonymous.

Frei said he isn’t interested in the end of the relationship, but rather the experience of being left while still in love.

“It’s such a powerful thing.”

For more information, visit the documentary's website.