The Mad Pole’e premiere: a survivor’s story

By Evelyn Garcia

It has been almost 80 years since the Holocaust, one of the worst tragedies in history. In that time we have listened to and read countless heartbreaking stories that have moved us, inspired us and made us value life more each time we heard them.

Lloyd Brock, a Cal Poly Pomona alumni and local film maker, has recently made a documentary titled “The Mad Pole” in order to tell the story of a longtime friend of his, Dan Romay. The documentary will premiere for the first time at CPP, where Romay is expected to attend and answer questions for the audience.

“The Mad Pole” was shot by Alek Gearhart, a young film maker whom Brock met at a film meet-up. The two decided to work together on a 48-hour film project. They were to come up with a story idea for a short film and go through the entire process of filming, shooting and editing within 48 hours.

In 2013, the talented duo produced “She Was,” a story about a soldier in World War II and the love of his life. The film won Best Acting, Best Directing, and was runner-up for Best Film at Inland Empire’s 48 Hour Film Project. Soon thereafter, Brock pitched the idea to Gearhart about Romay’s story.

Before Romay opened up to him, Brock explained that he did not speak much on the issue. Romay is generally an introvert who is not very talkative, much less about his experiences in the Holocaust. In the documentary, however, he looked at ease with Brock, which stemmed from having known him for many years.

Brock believes it is important to get the story out there, saying, “There’s a lot of new information in that documentary, and I think it needs to be told.”

Romay is a Polish Holocaust survivor who was first taken at just 15 years old. According to Brock, there are not many stories about survivors who were not Jewish, and that was very important to him in getting Romay’s story heard.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the documentary was the overall feel of it. Romay’s way of telling his story was surprising and not expected, in comparison to any other film or documentary on the Holocaust. He spoke about his tragic experiences in a light-hearted manner, and was even able to laugh along with Brock about certain occurrences, something that has not been seen before.

“It does have a different tone to it, and no one’s ever seen the Holocaust like this,” said Brock. “Here’s a non-Jew, and no one has ever told the story of a non-Jew-Polish.”

Gearhart also understood Romay’s way of opening up, saying, “A lot of people do that, try to make light of it to make it easier to deal with. But they’re more laughing about how crazy it is in a way… People might get the wrong idea about it, but that’s how they deal with it.”

Romay was inspiring to watch, and his story is just as inspiring. Despite going through such a difficult period, he is a happy man who values everything that comes his way. He and his wife live in a quiet home in Pomona, taking care of each other and still enjoying each other’s company.

When Brock asked Romay if he had any life advice, he quickly answered, “Try to stay out of trouble,” to which Brock responded that sometimes trouble finds you.

“Yes that’s very true,” said Romay. “I think its your destiny. I think thats your destiny’s laid out for you, and you just can’t dodge it.”

Whatever one’s destiny may be however, hearing Romay’s story leads us to believe that we may be more in control than we think.

"The Mad Pole" premiere: a survivor

Courtesy “The Mad Pole”

“The Mad Pole” premiere: a survivor’s story

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