wednesday 12 march
(dir Diana Groó, Hungary/Germany/United Kingdom, 2013, 63 min, b/w, Hungarian w/ English subtitles)
Constructed from archival materials based on a single surviving photograph of Regina Jonas (1902-1944), the first woman rabbi, this poetic documentary is set in 1930s Berlin when laws of the Jewish religion prevented women from ordination. New England premiere, co-sponsored by Women’s Philanthropy, a Division of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts.
Introduction by Catherine Portuges, UMass.
Meet the director and the producer. Director Diana Groó and producer George Weisz will be present for discussion.
Reception following the screening.
7:30pm UMass Amherst
137 Isenberg School of Management
DIANA GROÓ was educated in Budapest, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in French and Hebrew from the Faculty of Arts, ELTE (University of Budapest), followed by a Master’s in TV and Film Directing from the Hungarian Film Academy in 2000. She is a co-founder of Katapultfilm Studio (2002) and DunaDock (2013). Following her prize winning shorts and documentaries, her début feature, A Miracle in Cracow (a Hungarian-Polish coproduction), was released in 2004. What Lies Ahead, her documentary on disabled children from the Pető Institute, was awarded the Jury prize at Verzió International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in 2005. Her second feature, Vespa (2010), a Hungarian-Serbian road movie featuring a Romani teenager, won the UNICEF and the Dialog Prize for Intercultural Communication at the Cottbus Film Festival and the Prix du Reflet d’Or for best direction at the Geneva Festival Cinéma tous Écrans (2010). “Wild Imagination,” her art history series on the works of Chagall, Renoir, Bruegel and Rousseau, opened the contemporary art exhibition of Herzlya Muzeum, Israel, in 2005 and was incorporated by Haifa University’s Intervisual Media Program in Painting & Cinema. In 2008 Diana premiered the stage adaptation of Katherine Kressman Taylor’s Address Unknown, a prophetic novel about Nazism, also staged at São Paulo’s Teatro Hebraica in 2011. Her most recent work, Regina, (2013) a poetic documentary about the world’s first woman rabbi, won the Lia Award for Jewish Heritage at 30th Jerusalem Film Festival in 2013. In January 2014, Diana was awarded the Special Prize of the Hungarian Film Critics Society in Budapest.
CATHERINE PORTUGES is Director of the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies, Professor of Comparative Literature, and Curator of the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she received the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Teaching. With a PhD in French from UCLA, her books include Screen Memories: the Hungarian Cinema of Márta Mészáros (Indiana, l993) and Cinemas in Transition: Post-socialist East Central Europe (co-edited with Peter Hames, Temple, 2012). Her most recent essays have appeared in Cinema’s Alchemist: The Films of Péter Forgács ( 2012); Bringing the Dark Past to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Post-Communist Europe (2012); The Modern Jewish Experience in World Cinema (Brandeis, 2012); Blackwell Companion to East European Cinema ( 2012); and A Companion to the Historical Film (Blackwell, 2012). She is a frequent lecturer at international conferences, an invited programmer, curator and consultant for film festivals and colloquia, and a delegate to international film festivals. She was awarded the Pro Cultura Hungarica Medal (Republic of Hungary, 2009) for her contributions to Hungarian cinema, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2007) for her project on Jewish identities in Hungarian filmmaking.
GEORGE WEISZ emigrated from Hungary with his parents on the eve of WWII and lives in London. He is a double Queen’s Award-winning engineer and inventor who retired from active industrial work a few years ago. He has always been interested in promoting art and visual art including films (the Hungarian Psychoanalytical Film Conference, since its inception). Due to financing difficulties with finishing funds for Regina, Diana Groó’s poetic documentary about the world's first female rabbi, George Weisz was approached to rescue the project. True to his Jewish roots and values and in honor of his parents’ – Joir and Kato Weisz – memory, he agreed to support this film. He believes that the message of Regina Jonas’s life – a story of devotion and hope in the face of despair – is relevant for our time and wishes it to be heard and understood around the world.