Cake: A Love Story Goes the Distance


Date: November 29, 2017


CAKE: A Love Story” Finished in First place in the NSAEN Film Festival in the Short film Category


CAKE: A Love Story, based on a romantic memoir entitled It Had To Be Us by Harry and Elizabeth Lawrence, won First Place in the NSAEN International Online Film Festival in the Short Film Category. A public screening of the top three winners in the short film division is scheduled for December 13, 2017, at the Savannah Comedy Revue in Savannah, Georgia. This Ariella Media production had a World Premiere in Toronto on September 25th in the Toronto International Shorts Film Festival, and has received the Award of Merit in the INDIEFest Film Awards.

The story deals with the reconciliation of two people who were divorced and estranged from each other for almost twenty years. Although the film deviates from the book, it pays tribute to the spirit of the original source. Richard Vernon and Debra Lord Cooke portray Harry and Elizabeth, who were married for twenty-four years before their divorce. Nancy Lombardo and George Bettinger play Elizabeth’s friends.

In his review of this movie, film critic Richard Jack Smith writes, “As a hopeless romantic, I instantly warmed to the connection made by Harry and Elizabeth Lawrence. Their stunning memoir It Had To Be Us took chances that traditional love stories don’t. For one, the characters come across as idiosyncratic and well developed. Also, there’s Misha Zubarev’s filmmaking sensibility in translating this narrative to the big screen.  A collaboration with V. Ulea on script and direction, Cake: A Love Story reveals hope at the end of a long breakup.”

It Had To Be Us won First Place in the E-book category at the Hollywood Book Festival, where awards were given to books with the most potential to be transferred to other media such as film and television. The memoir also received a Five-Star rating from Romantic Times Magazine. The Lawrences donate their authors’ royalties to THE IMAGINATION LIBRARY, a children’s literacy project sponsored by the Dollywood Foundation.

Director’s Statement


While reading this beautiful real-life story, I became fascinated with its emotional richness. I could almost feel what Harry felt when he was writing his part of the memoir, and I found it very flavorful, sincere, and hopeful. I also learned that Elizabeth was a caring, genuine, loving individual with a brave heart. In fact, both writers demonstrated great courage in putting together and publishing such a candid personal account in such intricate details for unknown eyes to see. After reading their book, I wrote a review and posted it on

Happily, the authors then asked me to do a Sizzle Reel for the book. After that was completed, we started thinking about making a film version. The authors gave me permission to write a screenplay adaptation. I decided to focus on a short film version and received a grant to direct/produce this movie about how two people who were divorced and estranged for almost twenty years found each other again and rediscovered their lost love. The title was changed to Cake: A Love Story in order to enhance the film’s visual continuity. My mom (pen name V. Ulea), another fan of It Had To Be Us, joined the project early on to assist with the writing and directing. Plus, my father who scored this film (pen name Vad Chariton) agreed to work on the background track.

We were very lucky to get a wonderful cast! Debra Lord Cooke, Richard Vernon, Nancy Lombardo, and George Bettinger deliver the realistic performances we were looking for. Crew members also deserve praise for their highly professional work on this short movie. The actual filming took place in New York during December, 2016. It was difficult to shoot springtime scenes in December, but we all soldiered on – and even had fun.

As director, my goal was to do everything possible to make this beautiful story into an entertaining and emotionally satisfying experience for viewers. Like Harry and Elizabeth’s heartfelt book, Cake: A Love Story is filled with romance, humor, drama and suspense. Although my adaptation deviates from the book in certain aspects, it remains true to It Had To Be Us. It’s all about the meaning of love and life!

We hope viewers will laugh a little, cry a little and fall in love with Harry and Elizabeth as they prove romantic miracles can happen at any age.

Finally, we are very pleased by the positive critical response from critics who have screened our film so far. Here’s one example:

Press Contacts:

Misha Zubarev (

Betty Jo Tucker (


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