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Chasing Portraits

In conjunction with Jewish Book Month, OJMCHE and the Northwest Film Center present Chasing Portraits, which documents Elizabeth Rynecki’s quest to find the lost paintings of her great-grandfather. Moshe Rynecki’s body of work reached close to eight hundred paintings and sculptures before his life came to a tragic end. Decades later, his great-granddaughter Elizabeth sought to rediscover his legacy, setting out on a journey to find what had been lost but never forgotten…

The everyday lives of the Polish-Jewish community depicted in Moshe Rynecki’s paintings were a constant presence in Elizabeth Rynecki’s home when she was growing up. But the art grew from familiar to extraordinary in her eyes after she discovered journals detailing the losses her family had endured during the Holocaust… including most of Moshe’s paintings. Knowing that her family had only managed to save a small fraction of Moshe’s works, and that many more pieces might still be out there somewhere, Elizabeth set out to find them.

Before Moshe was deported to the Warsaw Ghetto, he entrusted his work to friends for safekeeping. After he was killed in the Majdanek concentration camp, the art was dispersed all over the world. With the help of historians, curators, and admirers of Moshe’s work, Elizabeth began the incredible and difficult task of rebuilding his collection.

Spanning three decades of Elizabeth’s life and three generations of her family, this compelling documentary is a deeply moving narrative of the richness of one man’s art, the devastation of war, and one woman’s unexpected path to healing.

Presented in partnership with the Institute for Judaic Studies and the Mittleman Jewish Community Center.

Appears in: Special Screenings

Genres: Documentary