This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

THE ORCHID SHOW: EARTH DAY CELEBRATION

(photo courtesy NYBG)

Earth Ball is part of Earth Day festivities at last weekend of the Orchid Show at New York Botanical Garden (photo courtesy NYBG)

The New York Botanical Garden
Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
April 20-22, $12 children two to twelve, $28 adults ($38 for Orchid Evenings, adults only, 6:30 - 9:30)
718-817-8700
www.nybg.org

The New York Botanical Garden’s 2018 orchid show, featuring installations by Belgian floral artist Daniel Ost, closes this weekend, but not before a flurry of special events in conjunction with Earth Day. On Friday at 11:00 am, Charles Peters will discuss his new book, Managing the Wild: Stories of People and Plants and Tropical Forests, in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library, and the Discovery Center at the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden will host activities for children from 1:30 to 5:30. Orchid Evenings take place Friday and Saturday night, with specialty cocktails, music by DJ X-RAY, Alice Farley’s Orchid Dancers, and a nighttime viewing of the show. On Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 4:00, there will be a Herbarium Open House in the Steere Herbarium and “The Scientist Is In” booth on Conservatory Plaza. In addition, the fifteen-minute animated film Tree of Life will screen continuously in Ross Hall from 11:00 to 5:00, there will be tours of the conservatory and laboratory and demonstrations of the Hitachi TM4000 PLUS Tabletop Scanning Electron Microscope, and the Earth Ball will be on display on the Conservatory Lawn.

FROZEN

(photo by Deen van Meer)

Elsa (Caissie Levy) becomes Queen of Arendelle as sister Anna (Patti Murin) looks on in wonder in Frozen (photo by Deen van Meer)

St. James Theatre
246 West 44th St. between Broadway & Eighth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through July 2, $99 - $199
frozenthemusical.com

It’s ice cold at the St. James Theatre, and I’m not talking about the air-conditioning inside or the weather outside the venerable Broadway venue. I’m referring to what is happening onstage, where Disney has turned its Oscar-winning 2013 animated film into a special-effects-laden musical. Attempting to capture the runaway success of such other animation-to-Broadway hits as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King, Disney has instead made a mess of the plot, which was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Snow Queen,” and added nothing memorable in the expanded score. In case you’re not familiar with the story: In a faraway kingdom, King Angarr (James Brown III) and Queen Iduna (Ann Sanders) have two young daughters, Anna (Audrey Bennett or Mattea Conforti) and Elsa (Brooklyn Nelson or Ayla Schwartz). Elsa is gifted (the gift is a curse, of course) with icy magic she can’t control. One day Elsa freezes part of Anna, so Pabbie (Timothy Hughes) and Bulda (Olivia Phillip) of the Hidden People save Anna but cannot remove the magic from Elsa, who despairs of her power. The parents separate the children to avoid another incident, but the adults are soon lost at sea — this is Disney, after all, where parents rarely fare well. Ten years later, Elsa (Caissie Levy) is ready to be queen of Arendelle; at the coronation ceremony, the sisters are reunited. The Duke of Weselton (Robert Creighton) makes a play for the queen, while Anna (Patti Murin) falls madly in love with Prince Hans (John Riddle) of the Southern Isles. Queen Elsa once again loses control of her magic and this time dooms Arendelle to an eternal winter. Unable to reverse the spell, she returns to her northern castle, where she plans to live alone so she can never harm anyone again. Anna is determined to brave the brutal cold and get to her sister, joined by ice seller Kristoff (Jelani Alladin), his trusted sidekick, Sven the reindeer (Andrew Pirozzi), and Olaf (Greg Hildreth), the girls’ childhood snowman come to life. Danger awaits along their treacherous journey, even with a brief respite supplied by Oaken (Kevin del Aguila), who offers them hot drinks and the use of a sauna. But the closer they get to the castle, the more it looks like they’re not going to make it alive.

(photo by Deen van Meer)

Kristoff (Jelani Alladin) and Sven the reindeer (Andrew Pirozzi) take a break in Disney musical (photo by Deen van Meer)

The Broadway musical features a book by Jennifer Lee, who wrote the screenplay and codirected the movie with Chris Buck, and music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who wrote the eight songs for the film and an additional dozen for the show. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” is still fun, and Levy gets to belt out the Oscar-winning “Let It Go” as the first-act closer, but many of the other songs don’t fall in sync with the narrative, bringing everything to a stop as the orchestrations soar just because they can. Murin (Lysistrata Jones, Wicked) has a goofy charm as Anna and bonds well with Riddle (The Visit, The Little Mermaid), but she and Alladin (Sweetee, Choir Boy) never generate the necessary heat between them. Hildreth (The Robber Bridegroom, Peter and the Starcatcher) nearly steals the show as Olaf, who manually operates the puppet from behind, when it is not already being stolen by Pirozzi (Movin’ Out, Hairspray Live!), who portrays Sven by arching over and using stilts inside the reindeer suit. (The reindeer’s blinking is creepy in a good way.) The costumes are by Tony winner Christopher Oram (The Cripple of Inishmaan, Evita), who also designed the ever-changing set, ranging from the girls’ bedroom to an ornate room in the castle, from a mountain trading post to ice daggers rising out of the floor. Levy (Les Misérables, Ghost) is in strong voice but gets overwhelmed by the special effects (designed by Jeremy Chernick, with lighting by six-time Tony winner Natasha Katz, sound by four-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski, and projections by Tony winner Finn Ross), as does Tony winner Rob Ashford’s (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Cry-Baby) choreography and Tony winner Michael Grandage’s (Red, Merrily We Roll Along) direction. The cracking sounds and images as the ice spreads across the stage and even onto the walls of the theater are impressive, but they also grow more and more distracting, but perhaps that was done on purpose as the story grows holes that you can drive an ice truck through.

LEONARD BERNSTEIN AT 100: CANDIDE

candide

Who: Paul Appleby, Erin Morley, Patricia Racette, William Burden, John Lithgow, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Mansfield University Concert Choir, more
What: A One-Night-Only Benefit Concert in Celebration of the Bernstein Centennial
Where: Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, 881 Seventh Ave. at 57th St., 212-247-7800
When: Wednesday, April 18, $47-$155 7:00
Why: In celebration of the centennial of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, Carnegie Hall is hosting a one-night-only benefit concert version of Candide, the Maestro’s 1956 musical adaptation of Voltaire’s 1759 satire. The operetta features the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the Mansfield University Concert Choir, with Paul Appleby as Candide, Erin Morley as Cunegonde, Patricia Racette as the Old Lady, William Burden as the Governor, Ryan Silverman as Maximilian, Bryonha Marie Parham as Paquette, Glenn Seven Allen and Ross Benoliel as the Inquisitors, and John Lithgow, Voltaire and Dr. Pangloss. The cast also includes the vocal quartet of Christine DiGiallonardo, Andrea Jones-Sojola, David Scott Purdy, and Nathanial Stampley and ensemble dancers Paloma Garcia-Lee, Stephen Hanna, Akina Kitazawa, and Devin Roberts. The book is by Hugh Wheeler, with lyrics by Richard Wilbur and additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, John Latouche, Lillian Hellman (who wrote the original book), Dorothy Parker, and Bernstein; Bernstein also did the orchestrations with Hershy Kay, with additional orchestrations by John Mauceri. The production is directed by Gary Griffin, with musical direction by conductor Rob Fisher and choreography by Joshua Bergasse. Among the other upcoming “Leonard Bernstein at 100” programs are “Total Embrace” at St. Paul’s Chapel (Thursdays at 1:00 through June 2, free), “Notes from 108th Street” at the Broadway Presbyterian Church on April 19 at 6:00 ($100), the National Children’s Chorus of the United States of America presenting “Prism” at Zankel Hall on April 29 at 3:00 ($46-$89), and the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing “Chichester Psalms” at David Geffen Hall on April 29 at 3:00 ($60-$70).

LIVE IDEAS: RADICAL VISION

Public Reading on Democracy

“Public Reading on Democracy” at Live Ideas festival features Tamar-kali, Aisha Tandiwe-Bell, Greg Tate, Liz Abzug, and others reading works by Medgar Evers, Ida B. Wells, Muhammad Ali, Shirley Chisholm, Harvey Milk, Bella Abzug, and more

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
April 18-22, free - $30
212-924-0077
newyorklivearts.org

The annual Live Ideas festival at New York Live Arts has previously explored the legacies of Dr. Oliver Sacks and James Baldwin, examined social, political, artistic, and environmental issues (curated by Laurie Anderson), and looked into a nonbinary future (curated by Mx Justin Vivian Bond). The five-day 2018 festival, “Radical Vision,” asks such questions as “How do we not simply protect democracy but make it stronger?,” “What are new (radical) ways forward — ways that go to the roots of our current democratic crisis?,” “What is your radical vision of Democracy?,” and “What would you give up to make it real?” New York Live Arts will host live performances, panel discussions, special presentations, and participatory events addressing these issues, kicking things off on April 18 with a gala at Irving Plaza honoring Elizabeth A. Sackler and Bryan Stevenson, with performances by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Samora Abayomi Pinderhughes, Abby Z and the New Utility, and Esperanza Spalding. The festivities then move to New York Live Arts, with three days of free public readings on democracy, the forum “Bending Towards Justice?,” “The Press + the Resistance,” “By the People?,” and “How Do We Prepare for Trump’s Second Term?,” with such creators and thinkers as Xenobia Bailey, Lawrence Lessig, Alicia Hall Moran, Roger Berkowitz, Emily Johnson, Max Kenner, and Erin Markey. Live Ideas 2018 concludes April 22 at 7:30 ($10) with the Democrazy Ball, with DJ JLMR and performances by Daphne Always and the Dauphine of Bushwick. Below are some of the other highlights of “Radical Vision.”

Wednesday, April 18
Contents Under Pressure: Democracy in Crisis, keynote conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill and Professor Lawrence Lessig, moderated by Bill T. Jones and with an opening performance by mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran with artist and puppeteer Matt Acheson, $15-$30, 6:30

Thursday, April 19
Dahlak Brathwaite: Spiritrials, one-man multidimensional play written by and starring Dahlak Brathwaite, with a score by Brathwaite and Dion Decibels, directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Sean San Jose, $15-$30, 8:00

Friday, April 20
Mike Daisey: The End of Journalism, monologue, $15-$30, 8:00

Saturday, April 21
Zephyr Teachout: Hands-on Politics, workshop with Zephyr Teachout, free with advance RSVP (suggested donation $5-$10), 1:00

Spiritrials

Dahlak Brathwaite will perform Spiritrials at New York Live Arts’ Live Ideas festival

Resistance & Friends, with live performances by vocalist and composer Like a Villain (Holland Andrews), singer Joseph Keckler, choreographer and dancer Marguerite Hemmings, drag queen and performance artist Ragamuffin, poet and performer Saul Williams, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, and choreographer and dancer Keely Garfield (Mandala), hosted by drag king Elizabeth (Macha) Marrero, $15-$25, 8:00

Sunday, April 22
Cynthia Hopkins: Learn a Song of Resistance, free with advance RSVP (suggested donation $10), 11:00 am

The Secret Court, staged reading by Abingdon Theatre Company, written by members of the Plastic Theatre and conceived by Tony Speciale, $12-$15, 12:30

Kenyon Adams: Prayers of the People, a secular liturgical performance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” participatory ritual/performance conceived by Kenyon Adams (little ray), directed by Bill T. Jones, featuring Cynthia Hopkins, Padraic Costello, Vinson Fraley, Rebecca L. Hargrove, Walker Jackson, and Adams, $15-$25, 6:00

LOBBY HERO

(photo by Joan Marcus, 2018)

Michael Cera and Brian Tyree Henry star in Broadway debut of Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero (photo by Joan Marcus, 2018)

The Hayes Theater
240 West 44th St. between Broadway & Eighth Ave.
Tuesday - Sunday through May 13, $99 - $169
2st.com

Kenneth Lonergan is en fuego. In 2014, the playwright and filmmaker’s 1996 work, This Is Our Youth, debuted on Broadway. Lonergan’s first play to make it to the Great White Way earned a Tony nod for Best Revival. Two years later, his off-Broadway play Hold on to Me Darling had an extended run at the Atlantic Theater, and the Bronx-born Lonergan’s indie film Manchester by the Sea was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay; Lonergan won the latter. And no sooner did Lonergan’s 2001 play, Lobby Hero, start accumulating accolades for its current Broadway revival than it was announced that his Pulitzer Prize–nominated 2000 work, The Waverly Gallery, will make its Broadway bow in the 2019 season. Lobby Hero also has the honor of being the first play produced at Second Stage’s first home on Broadway, the newly remodeled Hayes Theater on West Forty-Fourth St., where the show continues through May 13.

(photo by Joan Marcus, 2018)

Chris Evans makes his Broadway debut as a tough-talking cop opposite Bel Powley at the Hayes Theater (photo by Joan Marcus, 2018)

In Lobby Hero, Lonergan explores personal and professional responsibility while addressing police brutality, sexual harassment, misogyny, the prison system, militarism, lust, and racism; he made only minor tweaks to the original play, and more than a decade after he wrote it, it still fits in extremely well in this #MeToo, Black Lives Matter era. Michael Cera, who starred in the revival of This Is Our Youth and will be in The Waverly Gallery with Elaine May, plays the title character, Jeff, a wisecracking, ne’er-do-well security guard at a Manhattan apartment building. Jeff, who is trying to get his life on track, works for William (Brian Tyree Henry), known as the Captain, a straightforward boss who likes to think he is tough but fair. After Jeff fails to have a police officer who entered the building sign the book, William tells him, “Look, if you stick to the rules, then you never have to have a discussion about whether or not you were justified not sticking to the rules.” Jeff, who thinks he deserves a break, responds, “I am like the most conscientious guy in this whole building. The rest of these guys are like a bunch of crack addicts and degenerates.” The cop who refused to sign in is the hard-headed Bill (Chris Evans), who is in line for a gold shield. He comes by often to call on Mrs. Heinvald in 22J, making his new partner, Dawn (Bel Powley), wait downstairs while he conducts his business. Jeff develops an instant crush on Dawn, who is still on her probationary period after graduating from the academy, but William, a practical man who admits he is “no fun,” puts the kibosh on that. “Whatever you do, you’re just an imitation cop and she’s a real cop. And if you get involved with some lady policewoman, it is a sure bet you’re gonna end up feeling outranked and outclassed,” he says. Ever the jokester, Jeff replies, “I always feel that way. My last girlfriend was a tollbooth collector, and she intimidated the shit out of me. At least if I was going out with a cop, I’d feel, you know, somewhat safe.” When William has a difficult decision to make regarding his brother’s arrest for a gruesome crime, it sets in motion a series of truths and lies that impacts all four of the characters’ lives, changing the power dynamic as they each search for answers to some dangerous situations.

(photo by Joan Marcus, 2018)

David Rockwell’s set gives the audience different angles on potent situations (photo by Joan Marcus, 2018)

Lobby Hero takes place on David Rockwell’s open, revolving set, which offers several different angles of the lobby as well as the street outside on the cops’ beat. Cera (Juno, Superbad) and Emmy nominee Henry (Atlanta, The Book of Mormon) have an immediate chemistry onstage, like the classic comic and straight man act; Cera is fun as the quipster who seems to really be a good if goofy guy, while Tyree is sensational as the oh-so-serious William, who just wants himself, and everyone he comes into contact with, to do the right thing all the time. Oddly, while Cera and Henry fill their roles with believability and honesty, Evans (Captain America, Snowpiercer), in his Broadway debut, and Powley (Arcadia, The Diary of a Teenage Girl) feel like stereotypes, often going too far over the top, Evans overplaying Bill’s self-importance, Powley using a distractingly childish voice as Dawn. (Cera and Evans also appeared together as adversaries in the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.) Fortunately, director Trip Cullman (Six Degrees of Separation, Significant Other) doesn’t let the characterizations get too far out of hand, as Cera and Henry — both worthy of Tony nominations — bring it all back down to earth. Lonergan (You Can Count on Me, Margaret) writes incisive, riveting dialogue that makes its points with intelligence as it touches on key issues. “You don’t worry about if the world is bad or good, because I know goddamn well it’s bad,” William tells Jeff. “You just do your best and let the chips fall where they may.” But Lonergan takes it just that much further, pointing out that we all have a part to play in our destinies. “I feel a little bit responsible for the mess you’re in,” Jeff says to Dawn, who responds, “You’re not responsible. I’m responsible. I’m totally responsible.” And once again, the hotter-than-hot Lonergan is responsible for shining a light on our everyday foibles as well as the current state of our country.

TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: FREE

Tribeca Film Festival will host a special free presentation of Hotel Transylvania with a dance party, costume parade, trivia contest, and more

Tribeca Film Festival will host a special free presentation of Hotel Transylvania with a dance party, costume parade, trivia contest, and more

Tribeca Film Festival
Multiple Venues
April 18-29
www.tribecafilm.com/festival

As you scout around the Tribeca Film Festival guide and schedule, you might notice that a lot of the events are not exactly cheap, with most screenings running between twenty-five and forty-five bucks and some special presentations costing several hundred dollars. But there are a bunch of free programs as well, including film screenings, master classes, and gaming, particularly on April 27, which is free Friday. Make sure to check whether advance registration is necessary or it’s first come, first served.

Friday, April 20
Tribeca Talks: Master Class — Sound & Music Design for Film, moderated by Glenn Kiser, SVA Theater 2 Beatrice, 4:00

Sunday, April 22
Special Screenings: Hotel Transylvania (Genndy Tartakovsky, 2012), with a dance parade, costume parade, trivia contest, character meet-and-greets, Manhattan Youth performance, and more, BMCC Tribeca PAC, 9:00 am

Tuesday, April 24
Tribeca Talks: Master Class — BAO Animation Workshop, SVA Theater 2 Beatrice, free, 3:00

Tribeca Talks — 30 for 30 Podcast: Bikram, discussion with reporter and producer Julia Lowrie Henderson and host and editor Jody Avirgan, Cinépolis Chelsea 4, 7:15

Friday, April 27
Shorts: Animated Shorts Curated by Whoopi G, Cinépolis Chelsea 2, 3:45

Tribeca Games: A Special Preview of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, BMCC Tribeca PAC, 4:00

Phantom Cowboys (Daniel Patrick Carbone, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 6, 5:00

After the Screening: Little Women (Vanessa Caswill, 2017), followed by a conversation with executive producers Colin Callender and Rebecca Eaton, cast member Maya Hawke, and dramatist Heidi Thomas, SVA Theater 1 Silas, 5:00

Crossroads (Ron Yassen, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 1, 5:15

Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland (Kate Davis & David Heilbroner, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 3, 5:30

O.G. (Madeleine Sackler, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-3, 5:45

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (Stephen Nomura Schible, 2017), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-10, 6:00

Tribeca Games — Reimagining God of War: The Inside Story, BMCC Tribeca PAC, 6:00

Diane (Kent Jones, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 7, 6:00

Tribeca TV: The Last Defense, conversation with executive producers Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, SVA Theater 2 Beatrice, 6:00

Momentum Generation (Jeff Zimbalist & Michael Zimbalist, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-5, 6:30

Shorts — NY Shorts: Homemade, Cinépolis Chelsea 8, 6:30

Shorts: Magic Act, Cinépolis Chelsea 2, 6:45

Tribeca Film Festival will go inside the making of Little Women

Tribeca Film Festival will go inside the making of Little Women

Shorts: Make or Break, Cinépolis Chelsea 9, 7:00

Special Screenings: Netizens (Cynthia Lowen, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 4, 7:30

Special Screenings: Radium Girls (Ginny Mohler & Lydia Dean Pilcher, 2018), SVA Theater 1 Silas, 8:00

Tanzania Transit (Jeroen van Velzen, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-9, 8:00

Time for Ilhan (Norah Shapiro, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-6, 8:15

Special Screenings: The Girl and the Picture (Vanessa Roth, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 3, 8:30

The Elephant and the Butterfly (Amélie van Elmbt & Amelie van Elmbt, 2017), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-4, 8:30

It’s a Hard Truth Ain’t It (Madeleine Sackler, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-3, 8:45

The Serengeti Rules (Nicolas Brown, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 7, 9:00

Nico, 1988 (Susanna Nicchiarelli, 2017), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-10, 9:00

Mapplethorpe (Ondi Timoner, 2018), Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-5, 9:30

The Night Eats the World (Dominique Rocher, 2018), Cinépolis Chelsea 8, 9:30

Shorts: Into the Void, Cinépolis Chelsea 2, 9:45

Shorts: Loose Ends, Cinépolis Chelsea 9, 10:00

Saturday, April 28
Tribeca Film Institute: Tribeca Teaches Showcase, BMCC Tribeca PAC, 10:00 am

Tribeca Talks: Master Class — Show Runners and Writing for TV, with Robert and Michelle King, Steve Bodow, and Jennifer Flanz, SVA Theater 2 Beatrice, 2:00

Tribeca Campus Docs: Campus Movie Fest, Regal Cinemas Battery Park 11-9, 3:00

NANA

Nana

Serena Dykman retraces her grandmother’s steps at Auschwitz and elsewhere in Nana

NANA (Serena Dykman, 2017)
Cinema Village
22 East 12th St. between University Pl. & Fifth Ave.
Opens Friday, April 13
212-529-6799
www.nanafilm.com
www.cinemavillage.com

According to a disturbing new survey published this week by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and conducted by Schoen Consulting, twenty-two percent of millennials have never heard of the Holocaust, while fifty-eight percent of Americans believe that “something like the Holocaust could happen again.” The report was released just in time for Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. At least one millennial is doing something about that. On April 13, Serena Dykman’s extraordinary documentary, Nana, opens at Cinema Village, where the twenty-five-year-old first-time full-length feature director will participate in Q&As following the 7:00 screenings on Friday and Saturday. When she was a child, Serena had heard such words as “Holocaust,” “Auschwitz,” and “Mengele” but didn’t know exactly what they meant, though she knew they had something to do with her grandmother, Maryla Michalowski-Dyamant, whom she called Nana and who died when Serena was eleven. A decade later, after being in Brussels during the attack on the Jewish Museum and in Paris during the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Serena decided it was time to read the book she had been carrying around with her for two years but had been reluctant to open: her grandmother’s memoir. She then finally understood what all those words meant, and the impact they continue to have on her and her mother, Alice Michalowski, Maryla’s daughter.

Nana

Maryla Michalowski-Dyamant tells her amazing story of survival in documentary by her granddaughter

Nana is a deeply personal transgenerational documentary that focuses on Maryla’s remarkable story of surviving Ravensbruck, Malchow, and Auschwitz-Birkenau, serving as a translator for Dr. Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death, and going on to share her tale in an endless stream of interviews, school visits, and tours at Auschwitz, making sure that the world will never forget what happened. Once word got out that Maryla’s granddaughter was making a film about her, Serena received more than a hundred hours of footage from men and women who had interviewed her grandmother in television studios, at her home, and at Auschwitz, to go along with the new material she was filming. Serena and Alice retrace Maryla’s steps, traveling to Belgium, Poland, Germany, France, and Brooklyn, meeting with people who knew Maryla and reading excerpts from her memoir outside relevant historic locations. Maryla’s legacy is apparent as person after person speaks of her dedication to her cause, her sense of humor, and the matter-of-fact way she related her experiences — and her fears that anti-Semitism and intolerance were on the rise again. “I tell this to the youth so they understand everything that can happen if we adhere to regimes like the Hitlerian regime and others,” Maryla says. Television reporter Yvan Sevanans explains, “We have to constantly restart the work because there are constantly new generations.”

“Malevolent politicians still exist. Political manipulators like Hitler still exist. And even in the most democratic countries, we’re never shielded from a bad election,” notes journalist Christian Laporte, who visited Auschwitz with Maryla. “I’m really scared. These days, I’m scared,” says library director Joelle Baumerder, who also went to Auschwitz with Maryla and is the daughter of survivors. German-born professor Johannes Blum, who was the first one to record Maryla’s story, asks, “How does this woman find the strength to live? How is it possible? I’d even say that she passed on this strength to others. She knows the cost of life. And she knows the richness of life.” Alice herself explains how hard it is to be the child of a survivor. “It takes away from you the full right to live. You want to trust people, and to trust life. But you know that this is impossible,” she says. Serena, who graduated from NYU film school and has made several shorts (Welcome, The Doorman), and editor Corentin Soibinet potently move between the interviews with Maryla, Alice and Serena’s journey, the new interviews, and archival footage of ghettos and concentration camps from the 1930s and 1940s. One word that keeps coming up when people describe Maryla is “tolerance”; Maryla was adamant about not making the Holocaust a Jewish thing but instead about discrimination against any group.

Nana

Mother and daughter join together to keep telling Holocaust stories to the next generations in Nana

But at the heart of the film, which was written by Dykman, David Breger, and Soibinet and has a lovely, emotive score by Carine Gutlerner, is the relationship among three generations of strong, determined women, Maryla, Alice, and Serena. Sitting in the last remaining synagogue in Warsaw, Alice asks her daughter what her first impressions are of what she’s encountered while making the film, and Serena replies, “That I hadn’t understood too much . . . Or that I didn’t want to understand. I’ve learned more in ten days about Nana and the Shoah than I learned in all twenty-two years of my life.” Alice also tells her daughter, “She survived so you don’t have to. And so that you can live.” Maryla was initially compelled to speak her mind after hearing too many Holocaust deniers claim the genocide never happened. Serena is now keeping her grandmother’s legacy alive at a time when there are fewer and fewer survivors and witnesses and more and more white supremacists and fascist leaders around the globe. But like her grandmother, Serena is filled with the hope that things can change, and films like Nana, which has won awards at numerous international festivals, need to be made and widely seen to accomplish just that.

';