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Teaneck International Film Festival Opens 2021 Season

Jewish Link sponsors screening of ‘My Name Is Sara’ November 16.

The Teaneck International Film Festival (TIFF) kicked off its 16th season on November 11 and will run through November 21. Due to the ongoing and fluid environment of COVID concerns, the season will be a “hybrid” approach: Some screenings will be in-person, and others will be available virtually.

The Jewish Link is proud to be a new TIFF sponsor, highlighting “My Name Is Sara,” the seventh film in this season’s lineup, which will screen virtually on Tuesday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m. “Such a powerful film,” said TIFF Executive Director Jeremy Lentz.

The dramatic film depicts the true story of Sara Guralnick, a 13-year-old Polish Jew whose entire family was killed by Nazis in September of 1942. After a grueling escape to the Ukrainian countryside, Sara steals her Christian best friend’s identity and finds refuge in a small village where she is taken in by a farmer and his young wife. She soon discovers the dark secrets of her employer’s marriage, compounding the greatest secret she must strive to protect—her true identity.

The movie stars Zuzanna Surowy as Sara. The young actress was discovered during an open casting call across six cities in Poland, and she was chosen from over 650 other amateurs. Prior to being cast as the lead role of Sara, she had no acting experience.

“My Name Is Sara” will be presented as a virtual screening. Those who attend will be able to participate with the live “Talkback” panel following the film by typing their questions into the “chat” feature.

Yeshiva University Professor Daniel Rhynhold will serve as moderator. He is dean and professor of Jewish philosophy, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. On the panel will be Fania (“Fanny”) Wedro, a 94-year-old survivor who knew Sara; the film’s director, Steven Oritt; its executive producer, Englewood’s Andy Intrater; Teaneck’s Dr. Dennis B. Klein, Kean University professor of history, director of the Jewish studies program and MA program in Holocaust and genocide studies, founding director of the ADL’s Braun Center for Holocaust Studies and Hidden Child Foundation, and a sitting member of the Teaneck Board of Education.

Wedro, the survivor, was recently the subject of a program at The Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, co-presented with the Calgary Jewish Federation in Canada, which connected her to TIFF for the November 16 panel.

She was born Fania Hellman in Koretz, Poland in 1927. When she was 14, the Nazis took away her father and the other men living in the village. Wedro then spent six months in a work ghetto in Koretz, where she escaped two mass killings. After escaping the second mass killing, she lived in hiding in the forest for 18 months.

After being liberated by the Russians in 1944, Wedro was smuggled across various borders and eventually reached a displaced persons camp in Linz, Austria. She became a teacher in the camp and met and married her husband, Leo (Leib) Wedro. In 1948, the couple immigrated to Canada and became successful business owners.

Lentz explained that his goal as executive director of TIFF is that it be a festival “that would tell stories that needed to be told and inspire discussion, debate and involvement.” He added: “One of the major goals of the festival when it started 17 years ago was to highlight Teaneck, to introduce our town to outsiders as well as residents. That goal remains today. We want to support our movie theater, restaurants and local businesses in every section of town. Our hope is that our mission not only leads audiences to question, debate and become more caring and involved citizens, but also inspires them to recognize the need for activism and work towards positive change.”

TIFF’s virtual screenings are $5 each or $25 for an all-season pass. To purchase tickets for “My Name Is Sarah,” visit https://tinyurl.com/5ctmszu2. In-person screenings will not be available virtually, and virtual screenings will not be available in-person. For more information about the festival, visit https://www.teaneckfilmfestival.org.

By Ellie Wolf

 

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