When you have spent the past five years working off of your living room, not always being able to tell the difference between night and day, often waking up to send emails at 4 am, facing one rejection after the other, and constantly being told that what you’re aiming for is too ambitious, too complicated and way out of reach; you begin to doubt yourself and question the value of your work.
Up until last week, we couldn’t help but feel that we were just two foolish idealists. Reconciliation? Building bridges? Starting a dialogue among communities who still feel the pain of the past? Those concepts that were the starting point of our film started to feel like empty clichés that we were almost ashamed to say out loud.
It all changed over the course of last week. On May 10th, 11th and 12th, Three Stories of Galicia had its US Premiere with three showings at Landmark Theaters in the DC and Baltimore area. It was an absolute success that went beyond our expectations. The three showings were packed and at the same time very emotional. People were crying and laughing, and for us, the filmmakers, that was a fantastic reward. But even more gratifying were the audience’s comments during the post-screening discussion.
At the Bethesda showing on May 12th, there were several WWII survivors among the viewers. One Jewish woman was actually from Boryslav, the town of Aharon Weiss. She told the story of how she was only a few months old when the War erupted and the Nazis invaded Boryslav. Her parents hid her with an illiterate Ukrainian woman who adopted her and saved her from an almost certain death. After the War, only her father survived and he was able to come back and retrieve his daughter, who was then three years old, from the woman who had saved her. That was an incredibly moving story, at the end of which we all had tears in our eyes.
Another Jewish man was from Lviv, the city of Olia Ilkiv. He remembered being persecuted from all sides during the War. His entire family perished, and he was the only survivor who was brought to live with an uncle in the United States. He said that he still finds it very hard to forgive Ukrainians because a part of them sided with the Germans during the War. He said that he recently booked a trip to Ukraine with his two grown sons but at the last moment, he had to cancel because he couldn’t bare the thought of going back. He then told the audience that watching the film was very much like a healing process; he was able to see that there were other Ukrainians as well, those were people who were brave, who were kind and who risked their own lives to save someone else even if they were from an ethnic or religious group perceived to be as the “enemy.”
We really want to thank all the people who came to watch Three Stories of Galicia on the big screen. We know there are people who drove very long distances to be able to view the film and be part of the discussion. We were really touched by this incredible response and we will be working on organizing more screenings and bringing Three Stories of Galicia to your towns and your communities.
This entry was posted on Monday, May 16th, 2011 at %I:%M %p
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