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Dotted Lines: Women Filmmakers Connect the Past and the Present

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
7:30 p.m. Reconstruction
Irene Lusztig (U.S., 2001)

Irene Lusztig in Person

After college, Irene Lusztig lived for a time in Romania, where she researched her mother’s family. She knew little beyond the astounding fact that her grandmother, Monica Sevianu, and a group of Jewish intellectuals had attempted to rob a bank in 1959, a story right out of the movies. And in fact, the Romanian communist government did make a film about the heist, police investigation, and trial, with the perpetrators amazingly forced to play themselves. Lusztig’s film takes its title from this earlier re-enactment. Sevianu was sentenced to life imprisonment, and while Lusztig unearthed a few photographs of her grandmother holding her when she was a very young child, she has no memories of her. Conversations with relatives, neighbors, and fellow prisoners fill in some details. These interviews are intercut with scenes from the propaganda film and the filmmaker’s voice-over meditations as she sifts through conflicting stories and rare archival material that provides startling new information. In attempting to construct a portrait of her enigmatic grandmother, Lusztig also draws an intriguing portrait of Romania then and now.

—Kathy Geritz

• (90 mins, Color/B&W, DigiBeta)