On August 6, a local non-profit organization will present the first installment of a series designed to allow aspiring documentary filmmakers to receive feedback.
Erica Ginsberg, co-founder and executive director of Docs in Progress, said she became interested in filmmaking while participating in Montgomery County Public Schools Visual Arts Center as a student at Albert Einstein High School.
“While I ended up focusing on international relations in my undergrad studies, I never lost my love for making art and other creative pursuits, and that was part of the impetus for my earning a graduate degree in film and becoming a documentary filmmaker.”
Ginsberg and fellow filmmaker Adele Schmidt founded Docs in Progress in 2004. The Silver Spring-based non-profit provides support to documentary filmmakers by providing opportunities to network with other practitioners and venues to screen their work.
Docs in the City, a new series launched by Docs in Progress with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, will pair emerging and established documentary filmmakers whose works share a common theme.
The first installment will present “Searching For My Jewish Soul,” the first long-form documentary by Montgomery County resident Bonnie Rich, who served for several years as Director of Video Services in Marketing for the University of Maryland University College. The film follows Rich’s efforts to convince her millennial daughters, Rebecca and Leah, to raise her unborn grandchildren Jewish by demonstrating the relevance of the faith’s traditions.
Rich’s filmmaking efforts began with writing and directing whimsical short films starring her family and friends. Later, she became interested in the documentary format and in 2015 she was accepted into Docs in Progress’ Fellows program, where she began developing her film.
“The idea for ‘Searching for My Jewish Soul’ developed over time,” Rich said. “I wanted to create a film that incorporated an oral history of my grandfather that my mother recorded back in 1972, my own desire to find a meaningful connection to Judaism, and the millennial perspective on passing down tradition.”
Ginsberg praised Rich’s work. “While the theme of the film happens to focus on a Jewish family, I think it speaks to more universal themes of how we balance maintaining religious tradition in an increasingly secular society and the relationships between millennials and their parents mature over time,” Ginsberg said. “I think it will inspire a lot of lively discussions.”
“Searching for my Jewish Soul” will be presented along with Doug Block’s acclaimed 2006 documentary “51 Birch Street,” which presents three generations of a Jewish family’s life through home movies, snapshots, and archival footage. The event will take place at the Eldavitch Jewish D.C. Community Center at 1529 16th Street, NW, Washington D.C. “Searching for My Jewish Soul” will be screened at 2 p.m. and “51 Birch Street” will play at 4p.m. Discussions with the filmmakers will follow both screenings.
More information and tickets to the event are available at www.docsinprogress.org/docsincity.