Women Directors: Sharing Immigrant Experiences through Film

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Fri, 04/29/2016 - 11:56 -- Nick Dager

Produced by New York Women in Film & Television, Women Directors: Sharing Immigrant Experiences through Film is a screening series created to highlight and promote immigrant stories within New York City by women filmmakers. This five-month long series, designed to showcase a themed exhibition of short and feature-length films, will have its fourth screening May 19.

NYWIFT has selected two films for the program: English, written, directed, produced by and starring Amanda Quaid; and Zaritsas, written, directed and co-produced by Elena Beloff.

The screenings will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. The host venue, Finback Brewery, will provide a complimentary selection of their finest beers. All are invited to a post-screening reception of Eastern European cuisine. The program is free.

Funded by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley as part of the Cultural Immigrant Initiative of the New York City Council, the Immigrant Experiences series will produce one more screening in June.

A free documentary production workshop for immigrant and first generation women will take place May 7. 

 English follows an immigrant mother and her son as they chat over breakfast. Despite her wish that he speak Polish at home, he unconsciously slips into English. She walks him to school and watches as he is enveloped by his American friends. That night, when she tucks him in, she hears him talking in his sleep—in English—and she realizes there is now a part of him she will never understand. She must decide whether to catch up to him or be left behind forever. As so often happens in immigrant families, the children become, in a sense, the teacher. The film portrays an aspect of the immigrant experience that is deeply personal, while exploring the universal tension between autonomy and belonging. English is based on an interview with Polish immigrant Irena Zawadzka.

Zaritsas is a documentary film about American stereotyping of Russian women as mail-order brides and sex workers which dominated opinion in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Filmmaker Elena Beloff follows five Russian women for six months, interviewing each one in her environment: A rapper in a Sheepshead Bay Church; a saleswoman at the La Perla Madison Avenue Boutique; a model at home; a showgirl at a Brighton Beach Restaurant and an exotic dancer at Scores strip club. One of the women goes through a personal transformation as she leaves one life and begins another.

For more information http://www.nywift.org/ImmigrantMay