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My Name is Sara | Windsor Hamilton Jewish Film Festival

Tickets: $15

Available May 5, 7:00 pm – May 7, 7:00 pm

After this content becomes available on May 5th at 7:00 pm EDT, you’ll have 48 hours to start watching. Once you begin, you’ll have 48 hours

Because this film works so well as an engrossing movie story, I was surprised when I listened to Sara Shapiro’s oral history, archived at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, to discover how close this film clings to her real-life story of escape and survival as a young girl in Ukraine during WW II. Married in a DP camp after the war and immigrating to Detroit in 1949, she was 11-year-old Sara Goralnik of Koretz, Poland when the Nazis came and ghettoized and then slaughtered her entire family. Before the war, eastern Poland was a true melting pot where Jews, Polish Catholics and Ukrainian Eastern Orthodox Christians cohabitated in relative peace for centuries. Sara’s close relationship with her Catholic friend gave her the familiarity with Christian practice that enabled her to deny her Jewish identity successfully. After her grueling escape, enabled by the sacrifice of her older brother, Sara seeks work with the Ukrainian farmers. Challenged if she is a Jew, but with her mother’s final words to survive above all, she assumed her Christian best friend’s identity and finds refuge in a small Ukrainian village. There, she is taken in by a farmer and his young wife and lives in plain sight as a Christian orphan. But the farm is far from an idyll, and Sara soon discovers the problems of her employer’s dysfunctional family and marriage to a young wife. We get to experience farm life, village culture, and the casual cruelty of Nazi occupation with little connection to the Holocaust. Market day in the Nazi-controlled village is always dangerous for them all, but Sara’s knowledge of the wife’s adultery is the most dangerous secret she must live with other than the existential truth of her identity. The film’s director has extensive experience in documentaries, which has given this, his first fictional film, its remarkable visual and narrative authenticity