The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz
Directed by Nina Shapiro-Perl
An Art and Remembrance Production
In this award-winning 30-minute documentary film, a Holocaust survivor’s remembrances in uniquely beautiful stitched images and vivid accounts bring an uplifting life story to the screen.
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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, 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 of her art work, as well as interviews with her daughters and others, the award-winning 30-minute film “Through the Eye of the Needle” 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.
This extraordinary film has been screened at nearly two dozen film festivals, across the country and abroad, and won several festival audience choice awards and a professionally-juried CINE Golden Eagle award. In April 2012, the film had its television premiere on Maryland Public Television, reaching more than 12,000 viewers.
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