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a Film in Early Production Directed by Michelle Levy
An identity double, a prison record, a Polish mining town, a beekeeper, an old cocoa tin, a well, are some of the elements that converged in a collision of worlds, living and dead, that created an existential reckoning.
In the fall of 2018, artist/performer Michelle Levy went to Poland for nine months to investigate the 1945 wartime testimony of a Polish-Jewish ancestor, Paulina, who lost her family and survived on her own throughout Nazi-occupied Poland. The heart of Michelle's investigation was a road trip with her Polish counterpart, Patrycja, a Polish-Jewish "midwife" to untold stories, retracing Paulina's wartime path. Their plans went beautifully off-track when a series of strange errors and coincidences led to a confrontation with the dead, at which time, a promise was made.
What began as an investigation into one woman's account of survival, has evolved into a story about trying to create family against biological odds and standard narratives. Emerging from a multi-year iterative performance, the film (working title- Constellation) picks up two years after Michelle's return from Poland when she finally understands how to complete this story.
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This film is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, with additional support from the Tarbut Foundation and Union Docs Early Production Lab.
Constellation emerges from an evolving performance and collaboration with Warsaw-based writer/ artist Patrycja Dołowy, Michelle's partner on a journey across Poland and Ukraine following Paulina's story. Earlier versions have been supported by Asylum Arts, Festivalt, Kana Theater, Emmanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, POLIN Museum for the History of Polish Jews, the US Embassy, Warsaw, and numerous individuals/
Paulina is a fiscally sponsored project of the New York Foundation of the Arts. All donations are tax-deductible.
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