Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, 58 7th Avenue
In the fall of 2018, artist/performer Michelle Levy went to Poland to investigate the 1945 Holocaust testimony of a Polish-Jewish woman named Paulina. Her plans went beautifully off-track as a series of errors and coincidences led to an existential reckoning between life and death in which a promise was made. The Paulina Project: A Lifework is a film project in process born of a multi-year performance. For this event – a hybrid performance-lecture, work-in-progress sharing, and conversation with the filmmaker and educator Annie Berman – Michelle will share the story and how it has radically transformed her own life.
The Paulina Project film is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. It is a fiscally sponsored project of the New York Foundation of the Arts.
Michelle Levy is a Brooklyn-based artist and storyteller who uses performance, imagery, text, and collective engagement to investigate the mediated space between life and fiction where identity is constructed. She has presented her work in venues across New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Krakow, Szczecin, Warsaw, and Prague. For the past five years, Levy has been immersed in an evolving performance and engagement post-memory project, “Paulina,” which has received support from POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (Warsaw), Asylum Arts (NYC), U.S. Embassy, Warsaw, The Emmanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute (Warsaw), Festivalt and the Galicia Jewish Museum (Krakow), amongst numerous other institutional partners. She is currently developing this project as a feature-length nonfiction film supported in its early phase by a grant from New York State Council on the Arts and Union Docs Early Production Lab. Levy has 18+ years of producing exhibitions and artist programs at New York City arts institutions and was the Founding Director of the EFA Project Space exhibition program and the Shift Residency for Arts Workers (at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts).
Annie Berman is a media artist living and working in New York City. Named one of Independent Magazine’s 10 Filmmakers to Watch, her films, videos, performances, and installations have shown internationally in cinemas, festivals, galleries, universities, and conferences, including the MoMA Documentary Fortnight, Camden International Film Festival, Rooftop Films, Galerie Patrick Ebensperger Berlin, Kassel Hauptbahnhof, Spring / Break Art Show, Flux Factory, Babycastles Gallery, and the Rome Independent Film Festival where she was awarded the Best Experimental Film Prize. Her work has received support from the Puffin Foundation, Wave Farm, the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Arts, Grant for the Web, the Center for Independent Documentary, Signal Culture, LABA NYC, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and UnionDocs. She holds an MFA in Integrated Media Art from Hunter College, teaches at City College, and is a member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective.
Presented in collaboration with UnionDocs.
UnionDocs is a Center for Documentary Art that presents, produces, publishes, and educates. We bring together a diverse community of artists, dedicated journalists, big thinkers, and local partners on a search for urgent expressions of the human experience, practical perspectives on the world today, and compelling visions for the future. In doing so, we embrace the broad spectrum of documentary approaches and disciplines; from social-issue to experimental, from personal to archival, from essayistic to observational, all impulses towards “creative actuality” are given space and attention. These efforts spring from the belief that documentary art, when paired with thoughtful context and open debate, is an invaluable tool for understanding the complexities of contemporary life and creating a more just and equitable society.