Tuesday. September 17, 2019 at 7 pm, Temple Akiba will present “Chasing Portraits,” a film by Elizabeth Rynecki.
The documentary “Chasing Portraits” details the personal journey undertaken by the director who spent the last decade in pursuit of her great-grandfather, Moshe’s artwork. The elder Rynecki was a prolific painter in his native Poland, turning out numerous depictions of the lives of Polish Jews before World War II. When Hitler rose to power, Moshe’s son, George was able to pass in order to keep his wife and children from being sent to the Polish ghettos. However, Moshe’s tie to his community was too strong for him to leave it. He remained in the Warsaw ghetto until he was eventually killed by the Nazis at the Majdanek concentration camp.
After the war, Moshe Rynecki’s wife would recover 120 of his 800 paintings, which were now historical snapshots of the Polish-Jewish way of life that had been destroyed by the Holocaust. Several other pieces of his artwork would end up in places as prestigious as a Jerusalem art museum and as personal as a private art collector’s wall. “We think we have a legitimate claim to some of these paintings,” Elizabeth’s father, Alex says while showing some of the rescued materials he owns.
The family’s collection of paintings had always intrigued the young Elizabeth. Her grandmother endured the difficult task of trying to collect as much as she could after the war. As an adult, Elizabeth started a website documenting Moshe’s output. After ramping up her social media presence, she was invited to speak to several Jewish groups about her family history and her quest to discover lost artwork. These events led her to her hearing from people who were in possession of Moshe’s work.
Rynecki will be at the screening to discuss the many issue involved in the film.
The screening is free, and all are welcome. Temple Akiba is located at 5249 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230.
Film text from Odie Henderson @ RogerEbert.com