Through the Eye of the Needle - The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz
Directed by Nina Shapiro-Perl
An Art and Remembrance Production
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DVD includes optional subtitles in English
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More than 40 years after the Holocaust, Esther Nisenthal Krinitz depicted her remarkable story of survival through a stunningly beautiful series of 36 fabric collage and embroidery panels. Through Esther's own words and images of her art work, as well as interviews with her daughters and others, this 30-minute film explores the capacity of the human heart to heal. Through these reflections, we are reminded that genocide and other acts of baseless hatred are still with us, and that Esther's story, and those like hers, compels us to build a just and peaceful world for all.
Esther Nisenthal was 15 years old in October of 1942 when the Jews of her tiny village in Poland were ordered by the Nazis to report to a nearby train station. Anyone remaining in their home would be shot. Esther refused to go, begging her parents for the name of "someone, a Gentile, anyone" who would take her in. Hearing the name "Stefan" she prepares to leave. Kissing her family goodbye, she departs with her 13 year-old sister Mania, never to see her other loved ones again. Unable to stay with Stefan, Esther invents new identities for herself and Mania -- now Polish Catholic farm girls--as they hide in plain sight from the Nazis.
Esther's story of survival is remarkable on its own. But it is all the more extraordinary because of her method of storytelling- stitching and embroidering. It comes to us with unexpected beauty in a series of 36 large fabric collages, intricately embroidered in vivid color, created more than 40 years after the war. They depict one young girl's eyewitness account of the war, scenes of tragedy and trauma juxtaposed with the exquisite beauty of the natural surroundings. It is as if nothing escaped Esther's attention, or her memory.
Through Esther's own words and images as well as interviews with Esther's daughters, a noted folklorist, and two psychologists, we explore the toll of suffering and the capacity of the human heart to heal. Through these reflections, we are reminded of the dangers of labeling someone else "the Other," that genocide and acts of baseless hatred are still with us, and that Esther's story, and those like hers, compel us to build a just and peaceful world for all.
Through the Eye of the Needle: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz had its world premiere at the Washington Jewish Film Festival on December 5, 2011 and was shown at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival in February 2012.
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