Vera Gran

VERA GRAN
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This documentary by Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz and Agata Tuszyńska, who both came up with the idea for the film and also wrote the script, is a tribute to a talented Jewish singer whose career was destroyed by accusations that she collaborated with the Nazis. The film is based on the book „Vera Gran – The Accused” by Agata Tuszynska and tells a story of Vera Gran undoubtedly a fascinating and tragic figure. When World War II broke out, Vera Gran was just 23-years-old and one of Poland’s most popular singers as well as an acclaimed theater, cinema and radio actress. Once the Nazis established the Warsaw Ghetto, she would perform at the famous Sztuka café accompanied by Władysław Szpilman (immortalized by Polanski in The Pianist), among others. This period gave rise to accusations that she collaborated with the Gestapo, charges that would haunt the artist throughout her life. After escaping from the Ghetto with the help of a friend, Gran survived the war outside Warsaw, and she began performing once again. Poland’s postwar courts cleared her of the collaboration charges, but in Israel, where she emigrated in 1950 (she would move to France two years later), there were boycotts against her until the end of her life. The film by Zmarz-Koczanowicz and Tuszyńska reconstructs Gran’s extraordinary life story, and it includes interesting archival footage and unique contemporary recordings. First and foremost, however, Vera Gran is an attempt to deconstruct the myth that ruined her life: how it was created and the mechanisms rooted in the social trauma of the Holocaust that enabled it to function.

The film tries to find answers to the following questions: Who is Vera Gran, a Jewish signer, first in the pre-war Warsaw and then in the ghetto? Is she a victim of the war or maybe a victim of herself and her own fear? Is she an unfairly slandered woman or a person saving lives at any cost? She was just over twenty when she became a star of Warsaw’s cabarets. During the Nazi occupation she sang songs about love in Sztuka, a café in the Warsaw ghetto. She was dubbed Vera ‘the Magnet’ as her performances attracted large audiences, including fans coming from the Aryan side. After the war, in 1945, Gran was accused in Poland of collaboration with the Germans during World War II. In 1947, the Citizen’s Court of the Central Committee of Polish Jews heard the case and Gran was found not guilty in 1949.

67 minutes/English subtitles

Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz

Born in 1954 in Cieplice Śląskie. She is a graduate of the Faculty of Radio and Television at the University of Silesia in Katowice (1982). A director of the feature film Kraj Swiata (1993) and almost 50 documentaries, among others: I Am a Man (1985), The Office (1986), The Bread Monger (1988), I Don’t Believe Politicians (1989), Bara, Bara (1996), Turn Me into a Long Snake (1997), A Night with the General (2001), Generation 89 (2002), Dziennik.pl (2004), The Professor. About Leszek Kołakowski. A winner of numerous festival awards, among others, in Paris, Gdańsk and Krakow.

Screenwriter:
Agata Tuszyńska

Director:
Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz

Photography:
Ita Zbroniec-Zajt

Editor:
Grażyna Gradoń

Producer:
Agnieszka Traczewska
Largo Studio Filmowe

Distributor:
LogTV, LTD

• Official selection: The Prix Europa and Prix Italia 2012

• President’s Award at PFFA (Polish Film Festival in America), Chicago 2012

• Monumentum Iudaicum Lodzense Award at the Media Festival “Man in Danger”, Lodz, 2012

• TVP 2 – TV Polish State TV Network, 2012

• Official selection: WATCH DOCS Festival in Warsaw and 52nd Krakow Film Festival, 2012