The filmmaker retraces her grandmother’s Auschwitz survival story, and investigaes how her life-long fight against intolerance can be taught to the new generations.
At 22, Serena had always known that her grandmother, Maryla Michalowski-Dyamant, was an Auschwitz survivor, but never dared or cared to inquire more about the Nana she had lost at 11. After witnessing the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, Serena suddenly decides to read her grandmother’s memoir, and realizes who she was; more than a survivor, more than a Polish Jew, Serena discovers a woman she barely knew, a woman who despite her heavy past, gave all her strength and life to fighting intolerance.
Serena embarks on a journey with her mother Alice (Maryla’s daughter) and a film crew; the two retrace Maryla’s life, from her native town of Bedzin, to the horrors of Auschwitz where Maryla was Dr. Mengele’s translator, to Brussels, where she emigrated after the war. Guided by the pages of the memoir, mother and daughter assume Maryla’s voice, reading excerpts of the book in front of places of Nana’s past.
In Brussels, the two interview people who knew Maryla, and it becomes clear to Serena that her grandmother touched countless people through her testimonies, and why her work was so important; she publicly spoke of her experience in the camps to the new generations so it would never be forgotten nor repeated. She taught and reminded people what can happen in a world without tolerance.
What Serena doesn’t know is that she is about to receive from around the world over one hundred hours of footage of her grandmother, videos that reveal Maryla’s extraordinary personality, incredible strength, and inimitable sense of humor. The videos will structure the narrative of the film, intertwined with Serena and Alice’s journey, set against the backdrop of a world where anti-semitism and intolerance are on the rise.
NANA is both a very personal film, which explores the transgeneral weight of heritage and trauma, but also investigates how survivors’ message of remembrance and tolerance can continue in the twenty-first century, in a world where survivors are about to disappear.
Serena will be on-location [Cinemark-Boca Raton] for Q&A and individual, personal conversations
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