Synopsis: AVAILABLE FEB 27 – MARCH 3
Casey, an unloved, racist teenager from a broken home runs away, only to find herself destitute in New York City. There she meets an elderly Holocaust survivor called Samuel, who despite her ignorant and offensive views, remembers an old promise he made and decides to help her.
The two form an unlikely friendship, which gradually blossoms into a new family unit – him providing her the support and guidance that was lacking in her life, and her offering him the glimpse of the fatherhood that was torn from him in Dachau.
As he helps her get her life back together, soon she is back in school and tentatively entering the world of dating. But after Samuel’s tragic death, Casey is left on her own again. Will the guidance and advice that Samuel imparted during their brief friendship be enough to see her through this time round?
Buddhist masters such as Dogen Zenji (1200-1253) believe that in forgiving we have to just as much forgive ourselves as others – it is a form of unburdening ourselves from the pain of the past – and we are able to become light and free and to move on…
I intuitively feel (and you may agree or disagree) that the theme of this film relates globally and timelessly – even more today than ever, as the world seems to be in an ever more precarious state. The more we can make it relate, the more power it will have to illuminate, enlighten, transmute and whatever else it can do (if you believe, as I do that cinema has such a power).
On a more personal note, one of the key motivators for me trying to tackle this project has been my mother who has had a tremendous influence on me. Later on in her life, she uncovered she was born a Karait. Karaism is characterized by a prophetic passion for individual righteousness and social justice, puritanical zeal and asceticism, yearnings for redemption and uncompromising monotheism.
This film it is an opportunity for me to explore the heritage of our Haimovich family. I feel that I am both an outsider and an insider, which gives me a unique and more objective point-of-view, which I feel is necessary for this film to work on the highest level possible.
I was fortunate to leave Eastern Europe at a very early age and travel the world – my father working as a Ford Foundation consultant, with projects all over Asia and the Middle East. I spend most of my youth in many countries in the region, the longest residency being in India, and I was exposed to many Eastern religions and following in the footsteps of my mother, became fascinated with various mystical practices and systems, which gave me a global perspective and enabled me to break out of the confines of simply the Judeo-Christian systems of thinking and explore many other ways of thought and belief.
My high school years were spend in Europe, primarily England focussing mainly on Art and History, eventually leading to a degree from MIT, where I explored how technology can be harnessed towards art and media — and that is where I discovered film, at first documentary, then drama.
I don’t feel a filmmaker should be a spokesman for any particular point of view – more a mirror for the audience to reflect their thoughts and in the process – hopefully provoke, inspire, and illuminate, but I do feel the power of forgiveness and faith embodied in all religions of the world can serve as a healing force with the potential to bring all of us closer together and make the world a more peaceful place…
Rafal Zielinski, Filmmaker
Rafal Zielinski has directed over 20 feature films ranging from award-winning independent films (where his heart truly lies) to more mainstream Hollywood projects and television.
His early years were spent in Eastern Europe. While in grade school he was lucky to travel several times around the world and gain a global perspective, an 8mm camera always at his eye. He was schooled in North America, the Middle East and the Orient.
During high school, he was fortunate to attend the prestigious Stowe School in England where he received the Duke of Edinburgh Award enabling him to make his first documentary film about the temples in southern India.
He went on to graduate from M.I.T. with a Bachelor of Science in Art and Design focusing on the new field of art and technology and studied cinéma vérité documentary filmmaking with veteran Richard Leacock.
As an independent filmmaker Rafal has always generated his own projects either by creating an original story that he was passionate about then collaborating with several screenwriters or adapting works from the theater in collaboration with the respective playwright. On most of the independent films that he directed he also served as his own producer often producing through his own company.
His first feature “HEY BABE” opened the Taormina Film Festival and showed at Toronto, Montreal and AFI Film Festival. “FUN” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival receiving two Special Jury Awards for Acting and went on to show at the Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver as well as other international film festivals including Sydney, Edinburgh, Munich, Vienna, London, Cambridge, Stockholm, Sao Paulo, Hawaii, Hamburg, Rimini, Mill Valley, San Jose, Warsaw, Oslo and Wales. The Film opened theatrically at the Film Forum in New York and received two nominations for Best Newcomer Performance and Best First Screenplay for IFP Spirit Awards.
“GINGER ALE AFTERNOON” also premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival and was picked up by Skouras Pictures for domestic theatrical release in the United States. “DOWNTOWN: a street tale”, filmed in New York City, stars Genevieve Bujold, Joey Dedio. And John Savage, recently received it’s world premiere at the AFI Film Festival.
His latest two indie films are “BOHEMIA”, a love story set in Prague starring Troy Garity (Fonda) (“Bandits”, “Soldier’s Tale”, “Barbershop”) and upcoming Czech star Klara Issova and “AGE OF KALI”, written by Los Angeles playwright John Steppling, as dark psychological study of decadence and illumination set in Los Angeles.
In the mainstream arena he has directed numerous popular genre projects ranging from the highly successful Roger Corman financed “Screwballs” (which generated three sequels which Rafal directed as well), to Fox Searchlight’s Frank Peretti written “Hangman’s Curse” in which he gave Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”) her first starring role, as well as numerous TV shows such as “Highlander” and “Poltergeist”.
Rafal’s dream has been to make films that can reach a wide audience, be entertaining, deep and consciousness expanding – he is convinced that this project has the potential to achieve this goal.