Cinegogue Sessions Vol. 5 — Six Degrees of Connection

Still image from Chasing Portraits

Dear JFI Friends and Family,

Though we may be physically apart from each other these days, it’s comforting to know we’re often more connected to each other than we realize. The idea of six degrees of separation is that all people are at least six or fewer social connections away from each other (or from Kevin Bacon). While combing through our archive of films on JFI On Demand we noticed the uncanny connections between two particular films and their makers:

  1. 50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus and Chasing Portraits are both directorial debuts.
  2. Steven Pressman and Elizabeth Rynecki are both Bay Area filmmakers.
  3. Both films are based on a true story set during the Holocaust.
  4. Pressman and Rynecki each wrote and published books based on their films.
  5. Both filmmakers share a personal connection to the subjects in their films.
  6. And last, but certainly not least, both Pressman and Rynecki are Jewish filmmakers.

So it’s with little coincidence that we’re calling this week’s Cinegogue Sessions special program Six Degrees of Connection and we honor Holocaust Remembrance Day in presenting it today.

Until next week.

Jay Rosenblatt, Program Director

Joshua Moore, Programmer

Margherita Ghetti, Next Wave Programmer

50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus (SFJFF33)

Steven Pressman chronicles the courageous journey of an American couple to save Jewish children from the Nazis in 50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus (SFJFF 2013). In early 1939, Nazi policy still allowed Jews to leave Germany, but few countries would grant them asylum. President Roosevelt blocked a bill that would have given Jewish children safe passage to the US. Even American Jews did little for fear of fanning the flames of rampant anti-Semitism. Yet in Philadelphia, a Jewish lawyer, Gilbert Kraus and his elegant wife Eleanor, leaving their own young children behind, took it upon themselves to get 50 Jewish children out of Austria. This tense and compelling story, narrated by Alan Alda, is brought to life by private journals and a trove of previously unseen home movies.

Click here to watch a special message from filmmaker Steven Pressman

Use the password jfi50children to watch the FULL film below(thanks to filmmaker Steven Pressman)

Use the password jfi50children to watch the FULL film (thanks to filmmaker Steven Pressman)


Click here to watch The Making of 50 Children
Click for MORE exclusive behind the scenes footage from 50 Children!
Click for one more piece of extra footage from 50 Children

In Chasing Portraits (SFJFF 2018) Elizabeth Rynecki takes us along on a quest to find her Polish-Jewish great-grandfather Moshe Rynecki’s lost artworks. The art disappeared after he was deported to the Warsaw Ghetto and perished at Majdanek. His more than 800 paintings and sculptures portrayed scenes of everyday Jewish life, and although her family was able to save some of it, Elizabeth knew there were many more pieces out there. With the help of historians, curators and collectors, Elizabeth begins the emotional personal journey of recovering the collection that was dispersed all over the world. Spanning three decades of Elizabeth’s life and three generations of her family, this compelling documentary is a deeply moving narrative of the richness of one man’s art, the devastation of war, and one woman’s unexpected path to healing.

Click here for a special introduction and message from filmmaker Elizabeth Rynecki

Click here to find out where you can watch Chasing Portraits through JFI On Demand!

LUNA PARK by Moshe Rynecki
Self-portrait by Moshe Rynecki

To Tune In Next Week…

Subscribe to the JFI Newsletter for the next Cinegogue Session

Donate to JFI — we need your help during this time, now more than ever!

Follow JFI on Facebook and Instagram for more content and updates



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jewish Film Institute

Jewish Film Institute


The Jewish Film Institute, based in San Francisco, champions bold films and filmmakers that expand and evolve the Jewish story for audiences everywhere.