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Palo Alto Opening Night
In 1946, a team of searchers went with probes, shovels and their bare hands into tunnels to burrow through the vast tracts of rubble where the Warsaw Ghetto had stood. After nearly giving up hope, they found what they were looking for: an astonishing cache of archival materials documenting Jewish life in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, one of three buried treasures that would be found over the next five years. The collection of photographs, diary entries, smuggling accounts, newspapers and Nazi pronouncements constituted the invaluable work of a remarkable 60-member activist group Oyneg Shabes, (joy of sabbath). In Who Will Write Our History director Roberta Grossman (Seeing Allred, WinterFest 2018; Above and Beyond, SFJFF 2014; Hava Nagila (The Movie), SFJFF 2012) reveals to the world the vision, ingenuity and courage of these women and men.
Told through a combination of archival footage, photographs and masterful reenactments, the film is a stirring paean to these prescient individuals and a celebration of their optimism, persistence and grit. Under the inspired leadership of community organizer Emanuel Ringelblum, Oyneg Shabes operated in the shadows of Self Help, the social services organization Ringelblum founded, which ran soup kitchens and provided all manner of necessary services to the ghetto’s increasingly destitute population. In the words of historian Samuel Kassow, whose book by the same name informed the film, the collective sought to record the history of the war from the Jewish perspective through eyewitness accounts. The members of Oyneg Shabes risked their lives, some even choosing to stay in the ghetto despite offers to leave. They were motivated by their answer to one question: “Will the Germans write our history, or will we?” —Ilana Sichel
Director Roberta Grossman in person
An award‐winning filmmaker, Roberta Grossman has written, directed and produced several feature documentaries. Her documentaries range from social justice inquiries to historical subjects with a focus on Jewish history. Most recently, Grossman co-directed the Netflix original documentary Seeing Allred (WinterFest 2018) about women's rights attorney Gloria Allred -- which premiered in competition at Sundance.