Before World War Two, Poland’s four million Jews made the country the epicenter of the Jewish world. Today there are but 15,000 Jews living there. Due to the shadow of the Holocaust and oppression during the Soviet era, Poland’s remaining Jews hid their identity from children and grandchildren. With the fall of Communism in 1989 a young generation of Jews began learning their long-buried ancestry. The Return tells their story by following four women in their 20’s who discovered they were Jewish in their teens, and are now strong, dynamic leaders in their nascent Jewish enclaves. Yet they face the unique challenge of trying to create an identity in a vacuum; having been brought up in a Roman Catholic country with little knowledge of their heritage, they struggle to reinvent a Jewish community in what was once the epicenter of the Jewish world.
At the same time, there is a surprising renaissance in Jewish culture in Poland—initiated and organized by non-Jewish Poles. Yiddish, klezmer music and Jewish dancing are wildly popular, as Polish non-Jews embrace the pre-war shtetl world as a colorful remnant of the country’s history. In The Return director Adam Zucker weaves together the stories of the exoticized “coolness” of being a Jew, with the sincere challenge of creating an authentic, contemporary Jewish identity.
Initial funding for the project has been provided by The Jerome Foundation and The Hartley Film Foundation.
Lynn & Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film, Foundation for Jewish Culture
About the Filmmakers
ADAM ZUCKER, PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
Adam Zucker’s most recent film, Greensboro: Closer to the Truth (2007). screened at over 35 festivals in the U.S. and abroad, and received the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Rome International Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Dead Center Film Festival. In addition, the film’s Audience Engagement effort, The Closer to the Truth Project, is facilitating the film’s use as a catalyst for change in communities across the U.S. (www.greensborothemovie.com). Adam has edited numerous award-winning documentaries. Edited projects include Rory Kennedy’s American Hollow (Sundance Film Festival and HBO) and Homestead Steel Strike (History Channel, Ten Days That Changed America series), Michael Kantor’s Broadway: The American Musical (PBS), Madison Davis Lacy’s Richard Wright: Black Boy (PBS), Ken Burns and Steve Ives’ The West (PBS), Dori Berinstein’s Show Business (Tribeca Film Festival and Showtime) and Josef Astor’s upcoming Lost Bohemia.
SCOTT ANGER, DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Scott Anger is an award-winning cinematographer, independent journalist, photographer and documentary filmmaker. Scott has helped produce four independent documentary films: Richard Hankin’s Home Front, Adam Zucker’s Greensboro: Closer to the Truth, Deborah Dickson’s Witness to a Secret War and Deborah Dickson and Muffy Meyers’ The Lost bird Project. Scott has worked as a photojournalist and radio producer, and was Voice of America’s bureau chief covering Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. He helped produce seven films for the PBS Frontline series, including two which received duPont Awards.
RICHARD HANKIN, EDITOR
Richard Hankin is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and editor. Capturing the Friedmans, which Richard edited and co-produced, won numerous awards including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and an Emmy. Other editing projects include Mark Becker's Romantico; Dori Berinstein's Show Business; HBO's Peabody Award-winning Cancer: Evolution to Revolution; Dance Cuba; Dreams of Flight; New York: A Documentary Film; and the Ken Burns film The West. Richard produced and directed Home Front, which Time Magazine named as one of the Top Ten films of the 2006.