- History, Politics, Human Rights, Docu-Drama, and Foreign Worlds
The Dressmaker unfolds across three generations of women with Sephardic Jewish roots in Bulgaria and Greece, two countries with longstanding animosity. During WWII Bulgaria became an ally to Germany, and occupied Northern Greece where many Sephardic Jews lived. When Bulgarian Jews were placed in ad-hoc ghettos in 1943, Stella Mashiah took her sewing machine with her. Her sewing skills helped her get through the war, and she became known among her friends as The Dressmaker. Soon after, she met and fell in love with Carlo, a Greek Jew, bringing into their daily lives the conflict that seized those two communities: Under public pressure, Bulgarian authorities had saved their own country’s Jews, but deported the Greek Jews of the occupied territories. Carlo was among the few who survived, although he lost most of his family. Today, at 92, Stella along with her daughter Shirley and granddaughter Estee seek answers into the family’s complex, unresolved history, after 70 years of silence.
- Show treatment
The Dressmaker is a character driven documentary focusing on three generations of women from the Gatenio family from New York. Central to the film are the interviews with the family’s matriarch Stella Gatenio, 92. Stella’s animated, funny and poignant storytelling provides a glimpse of the world she once belonged to. Today she is as vibrant, determined, and funny as she was in her youth back in Bulgaria. Her memories of the events are still intact. Her stories provide the emotional connection to the events that informed the family’s history, and her sense of passing on the memory to the next generation is evident. Stella’s narrative is juxtaposed with verite style footage from the journey her daughter Shirley, and her granddaughter Estee undertake back to Bulgaria and Greece following into her story. The original footage of the overgrown cemeteries, the empty Synagogues, and mislabeled memorial plagues, evokes a feeling of sadness and loss of a once vibrant community.
- in production
- Running time
- -70 minutes
- United States
- Years of Production
- New York, Sofia, Bulgaria, Drama, Greece, Treblinka, Poland and Israel
- Prod. Partners
- IFP, Inc. Fiscal Sponsor
- Release year
- English, Bulgarian, Greek, Ladino
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