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Chasing Portraits

Director - Elizabeth Rynecki
Run Time - 78 minutes
Language - English
Format - Digital
Year - 2018
Genre - Documentary

Educational Interests- Art, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Studies, Family Relations, History (World), Jewish Studies, New Releases

Institutional DVD Price: $295

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Moshe Rynecki (1881-1943) was a prolific Warsaw-based artist who painted scenes of the Polish-Jewish community until he was murdered at Majdanek. After the Holocaust, Moshe's wife was only able to recover a small fraction of his work, but unbeknownst to the family, many other pieces survived.

For more than a decade his great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Rynecki, has searched for the missing art, with remarkable and unexpected success. Spanning three generations, Chasing Portraits is a deeply moving narrative of the richness of one man's art, the devastation of war, and one woman's unexpected path to healing.

Official Selection - San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 2018

Official Selection - New York Jewish Film Festival 2019

"'Chasing Portraits' is about a search. Yet the most affecting parts of this documentary come with the realization that some things may never be found." - Ken Jaworowski, THE NEW YORK TIMES

"With its compelling tale of a family's trauma and recovery, Elizabeth's story is captivating throughout every stage of her journey. As the years go by, the number of living Holocaust survivors shrinks, and the importance of preserving this part of history through the younger generations grows. 'Chasing Portraits' shows the pain and impact of the Holocaust spanning every generation and also showcases the strength it takes to heal. Elizabeth Rynecki has created a beautiful portrait of loss and growth and in doing so has brought the gift of Moshe Rynecki's art to a new, thankful audience." - Dylan Brennan, NONFICS

"I felt a strong connection to the director's desire to bond with her ancestors through art. So much of what I know about who I am was passed down to me through stories I grew up hearing. Those stories, passed from generation to generation, gave me a feel for the traumatic and often joyful lives of those who came before me." - Odie Henderson,

"Undeniably potent. Rynecki thought her ancestor's artistic legacy to be somewhat obscure...when she eventually learns to her astonishment that not only do numerous other Moshe Rynecki paintings exist, but that they are held in high regard by museums and collectors, the filmmaker finds herself at a strategic and moral crossroads. Should she pursue her great-grandfather's war-scattered works as a descendent seeking their repatriation? Or should she assume the stance of a historian who merely wishes to bring a neglected artist into the sunlight?" - Andrew Wyatt, Cinema St. Louis

"Though she begins her travels with a desire to reclaim as much of Moshe's work as possible, Elizabeth’s encounters with museum curators and others who have lived with the paintings and sculptures give way to a heightened sense of addition to the tragic, miraculous history behind the pieces, Moshe’s depictions of the everyday lives of Polish Jews in the 1920′s and 1930′s serve as a window into a thriving community of 3 million that would later be nearly erased. By allowing us a similarly intimate seat next to Elizabeth on her journey, Chasing Portraits is an emotional trip for the viewer as well." - Andrew Shearer, Athens Banner-Herald

Read an interview with director Elizabeth Rynecki in Submittable »

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