Below is a list of films that relate to Polish history that you might enjoy in preparation for the Ansche Chesed trip to Poland. You will see a Netflix or New York Public Library icon next to those films which are available by either of those means.

100 Voices: A Journey Home

Matthew Asner and Danny Gold | Documentary

100 Voices: A Journey HomeA musical documentary that uniquely tells the history of Jewish culture in Poland. It highlights the current resurgence of Jewish culture through the personal reflections and musical selections of a group of cantors and acclaimed composer Charles Fox (“Killing Me Softly”, “I Got A Name” and many more) who made an important historical mission to the birthplace of Cantorial music. The documentary will give generations the opportunity to learn about and re-embrace the Jewish culture that produced one of the most artistic and educated societies that once flourished in Europe. Above all, the film celebrates the resilience and the power of Jewish life, while telling the story of two peoples who shared intertwined cultures.
Boris Dorfman, A Mensch

Gabriela von Seltmann | Documentary

‘A Mentsh’ is a movie shot entirely in the Yiddish language, which makes it unique. It’s set in the former multinational city of Lviv, Ukraine, and the first part of a planned Yiddish trilogy (Lviv, Tel Aviv, New York). Lviv was a centre of Jewish life for 600 years. 75 years after the beginning of World War II, Boris Dorfman takes us on a trip to all the places of horror and hope reflecting the Jewish history. The 90-year-old activist is virtually the last one in town still speaking the almost extinct language of Yiddish. While remembering the past, he lives in the present and tries to prepare the people for the future. He is ‘a mentsh’, someone full of love and empathy.
Hiding and Seeking

Oren Rudavsky | Documentary

Hiding and SeekingIn this compelling documentary from the directors of the just-as-riveting A Life Apart: Hasidism in America, a father takes his grown-up Orthodox Jewish sons to Poland to teach them about the perils of putting up walls to keep those they deem dangerous outside. After he introduces them to the Polish family who helped their grandfather during the Holocaust, they discover the value in building bridges.
Image Before My Eyes

Joshua Waletzky | Documentary

Image Before My EyesIn this retrospective documentary, director Joshua Waletzky masterfully weaves home movies, memorabilia, photos and interviews into a rich tapestry depicting the broad spectrum of Jewish life in Poland between the two world wars. Paying tribute to a vibrant civilization of more than 3 million people — a multifaceted society nearly obliterated during the holocaust — Waletzky paints an inspirational portrait of a proud culture.
Karski & The Lords of Humanity

Slawomir Grunberg | Documentary

Karski & The Lords of HumanityRecounting the efforts of Polish underground fighter Jan Karski to expose the horrors of the Holocaust during WWII. Karski relayed his eyewitness accounts of atrocities to the Allies in the hope of galvanizing them into action, thus preventing the annihilation of Europe’s Jewish population.
Saved by Deportation

Slawomir Grunberg | Documentary

In 1940, a year before the Nazis started deporting Jews to death camps, Joseph Stalin ordered the deportation of approximately 200,000 Polish Jews from Russian-occupied Eastern Poland to forced labor settlements in the Soviet interior. As cruel as Stalin’s deportations were, ultimately they largely saved Jewish lives, for the deportees constituted the overwhelming majority of Polish Jews who escaped the Nazi Holocaust. “Saved by Deportation” not only tells this story, but it re-traces the path Asher and Shyfra Scharf traveled more than 60 years ago from Poland to Siberia to the former Soviet states of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia. It is in those largely Muslim societies, in the cities of Kuhjand, Jeezax and Samarkand, that the film demonstrates a remarkable spirit as the Scharfs are welcomed by the locals who recall fondly the sojourn of Polish refugees in their midst. This little-known story of survival is both a harrowing adventure and an affirmation of human goodness during a time of great darkness.
The Partisans of Vilna

Aviva Kempner & Joshua Waletzky | Documentary

The Partisans of VilnaSkillfully blended songs, newsreels, and archival footage with interviews of over forty Holocaust survivors to paint an eye-opening portrait of the courageous Jewish resistance who staged a sabotage offensive against the Nazis in the Polish city of Vilna.
The Peretzniks

Slawomir Grunberg | Documentary

The Peretzniks tells the story of a Jewish school in Lodz, Poland. Following the Communist anti-Semitic campaign, which took place in Poland in 1968, the school was closed down and families were forced to leave Poland. As a result of this, the Peretz School graduates are dispersed all over the world, including Canada. The bittersweet memories of their youth in post-war Poland is what binds the Peretzniks together till this day.
The Return

Adam Zucker | Documentary

The ReturnWith no access to their heritage, four women are forging a new sense of self. In the country that was once the epicenter of the Jewish world, and now regarded as “the Jewish graveyard,” they are figuring out how to be Jewish in today’s Poland.

Ronit Kertsner | Documentary

Can one be a Catholic priest and an Observant Jew at the same time?
12 years after he was ordained as a Polish Catholic priest, Romuald Waszkinel discovers that he was born to Jewish parents, and that his name was Jacob Weksler.
The film follows his amazing journey: from conducting mass in a church in Poland to life as an observant Jew in a religious kibbutz in Israel. Romuald is torn between two identities, between being Romuald Waszkinel or Jacob Weksler. He is unable to renounce either, and therefore is rejected by both religions and the state of Israel. He is required to choose.

Władysław Pasikowski | Narrative

AftermathTwo decades after migrating to America, Chicagoan Franek returns to his native Poland only to find things deeply amiss in his family and town. With his brother, Jozek, who stayed behind, Franek sets out to discover the community’s collective secret.
Angry Harvest

Agnieszka Holland | Narrative

Angry HarvestOscar nominated as Best Foreign Language Film, this unsettling character study set in World War II stars Armin Mueller-Stahl as Leon Wolny, a simple but thriving Polish farmer torn between his scruples and sexual desire. When Leon happens upon a Jewish woman (Elisabeth Trissenaar) who’s jumped from a train bound for a Nazi death camp, he takes her in and shelters her in his cellar. But everything changes once his long-suppressed libido surfaces.

Pavel Pawlikowski | Narrative

IdaRaised in a Catholic orphanage during the Nazi occupation of Poland, Anna is poised to join the order when she learns she has a surviving aunt. But visiting the woman before taking her vows uncovers some inconvenient truths about her heritage.
In Darkness

Agnieszka Holland | Narrative

In DarknessLeopold Socha is a sewer worker and petty thief in Lvov, a Nazi occupied city in Poland. One day he encounters a group of Jews trying to escape the liquidation of the ghetto. He hides them for money in the labyrinth of the town’s sewers beneath the bustling activity of the city above. What starts out as a straightforward and cynical business arrangement turns into something very unexpected, the unlikely alliance between Socha and the Jews as the enterprise seeps deeper into Socha’s conscience.

Andrzej Wajda | Narrative

KatynDramatization of the massacre of 20,000 people (interned Polish officers as well as civilians accused of treason by the occupying Soviet forces) by the Soviet secret police at Katyń in the spring of 1940, and the cover-up that followed. Follows the fictional stories of four families, separated from one another in the confusion of September 1939, when the Soviets and Germans invaded Poland, through the Soviet occupation in 1945 when the truth of the massacre gets suppressed.

Andrzej Wajda | Narrative

KorczakThe film opens in the late 1930s with pediatrician, writer, teacher, and radio personality Korczak working as the administrator of an orphanage in the slums of Warsaw. When the Nazis invade Poland, move Korczak and his Jewish charges into the ghetto, and begin shipping cattle cars full of adult Jews to Treblinka, the doctor does everything in his power to try to protect the children from the uglier aspects of the ominous quarantine.
The Dybbuk

Sidney Lumet | Narrative

The DybbukWhen a young maid is possessed by the soul of her deceased lover, a rabbi must exorcise the dybbuk and the young bride must choose a man she does not love or her dead lovers’s spirit.

Emmanuel Finkiel | Narrative

VoyagesFrom Poland to Paris to Tel Aviv, an intimate and personal story of the quests of three contemporary Jewish women whose lives and intertwining destinies create a moving and poignant story of survival.