Paint What You Remember

Mayer Kirshenblatt left Poland for Canada in 1934. Fifty-six years later, at age 73 Mayer began to paint his childhood memories of prewar life in Opatow. Before Second World War Opatow (or Apt in Yiddish) had 10 thousand inhabitants, more than half of them Jewish. Nowadays, little is remembered of the shtetl character of the town and of its Jewish population wiped out entirely by the Holocaust.

When in the summer of 2007 91 year old Mayer came to Opatow and organized a public showing of the images he paints, he was welcomed with incredible enthusiasm. The town officials were astounded by the reaction of the crowd, as no event had ever attracted so many people, who simply could not get enough of Mayer’s stories about a lost Jewish world. Today, there are no Jews living in Opatow and there are hardly any signs of its Jewish heritage. Read more below.

Mayer Kirshenblatt left Poland for Canada in 1934. Fifty-six years later, at age 73 Mayer began to paint his childhood memories of prewar life in Opatow. Before Second World War Opatow (or Apt in Yiddish) had 10 thousand inhabitants, more than half of them Jewish. Nowadays, little is remembered of the shtetl character of the town and of its Jewish population wiped out entirely by the Holocaust.

When in the summer of 2007 91 year old Mayer came to Opatow and organized a public showing of the images he paints, he was welcomed with incredible enthusiasm. The town officials were astounded by the reaction of the crowd, as no event had ever attracted so many people, who simply could not get enough of Mayer’s stories about a lost Jewish world. Today, there are no Jews living in Opatow and there are hardly any signs of its Jewish heritage.

Mayer was born in 1916. His nickname as a boy was ‘Tamez’, in Yiddish ‘July’, which more bluntly meant ‘crazy’ for people get a little crazy when it is hot – Mayer recounts – and it was always hot in July. So Mayer was an excitable hyperactive kid. He completed seven grades of Polish school and immigrated to Canada at age 17. He ended up opening his own wallpaper and paint store in Toronto.

A Film by:
Slawomir Grunberg

Produced and Directed by:
Slawomir Grunberg

Edited by:
Basia Winograd & Katka Reszke

Photographed by:
Slawomir Grunberg

Original Music Composed & Performed by:
Gary Lucas

Principal funding for the production of “Paint What Your Remember” was made possible by the support of LOGTV, Ltd and Museum of History of Polish Jews.

SCREENINGS

• Limmud, South Africa (Cape Town, Durban & Johannesburg), August, 2014

• Hannukah Festival at the White Stork Synagogue in Wroclaw, Poland, December 3, 2013

• Zagreb Jewish Film Festival, Zagreb, Croatia, May 20-26, 2012

• Jewish Eye – World, Ashkelon, Israel, November 13-21, 2011

• 21st San Diego Jewish Film Festival, US, February 19, 2011

• Ekran – Toronto Polish Film Festival 2010, November 19-21, 2010

• The 15th Ashkenaz Festival, Toronto, Canada, September 5, 2010

• JCC Krakow, Poland, June 2-4, 2010

• Canadian Premiere, 18th Toronto Jewish Film Festival, April 20, 2010, 12 pm, Al Green Theater

• World Premiere, Film and Art Festival ‘Dwa Brzegi” Kazimierz Dolny, August 8, 2009

PUBLICITY PHOTOS

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