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The Giant Prawn at Ballina

Holding Hands with Ilse
Director Present

Directed by Abraham Ravett
Screening Date: April 19, 2017
7:30PM, 137 Isenberg SOM


(2017, dir Abraham Ravett, 93 min)
A film about the search for the German teenage girl who took care of the filmmaker between 1948-1950 in Walbrzch, Poland where he was born. Knowing only her first name and circulating a small photograph taken in 1950 of the two, the director explores the urban landscapes of western Poland and the journey involved in their unexpected reunion that recently took place in Ibbenburen, Germany. Valley Premiere.

"In 2011, a major change in my personal life brought up feelings of abandonment that were somehow rooted in the emigration from Poland to Israel and also in the loss of that intimate relationship I’d had with a caregiver I couldn’t even remember. I decided to try and find Ilse and make a film about my search. Based on what little I had to go on, I never imagined that I’d find her. Last summer, after months of fruitless leads, an unlikely chain of connections led to a major feature about my film project in the Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s leading daily, coupled with a mention of my project in a monthly newsletter for former residents of Walbrzych now living in Germany. Ilse Gerda Kaiser, 82, saw the newsletter and immediately recognized herself and me. In a few weeks I was on a Lufthansa flight to Ibbenbüren, Germany."

"Over five days together, Ilse filled in gaps about my early life. I learned that she looked after me as much as twelve hours a day, six days a week, for two years while my parents ran a grocery store. I learned that her father, a coal miner, had been forced, not asked, to stay in Walbrzych because war-ravaged Poland desperately needed coal. I wasn’t expecting the epiphany of reunion, but the new connections I sensed felt profound. And of course I had more questions for which she had no answers. The film, when it’s completed, will expand the tapestry I’ve been trying to weave through all of my work: between the present and the past, between self and family, between a desire to know and the limits of what can be revealed."
Introduction by Pooja Rangan, English in Film and Media Studies of Amherst College.
The director will be present.

Abraham Ravett holds a B.F.A and M.F.A in filmmaking and Photography and has been an independent filmmaker for the past thirty-five years. He was born in Poland, raised in Israel and the USA. Mr. Ravett received grants for his work from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Foundation for Jewish Culture: Fund for Documentary Filmmaking, National Endowment for the Arts, The Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, The Japan Foundation, The LEF Foundation, The Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation, and a 1994, filmmaking fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. His films have been screened internationally including several one-person shows at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. His work has won “Top Prize” at the Viennale 2000, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and Onion City Film/Video Festival. In 1999, he collaborated with dancer/choreographer, Bill T. Jones, on his solo performance, "The Breathing Show." A retrospective of his films was shown at the 2014 Festival Film Dokumenter Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

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