DOXA 2009: Inside Hana's Suitcase





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Published on May 6, 2009

Director: Larry Weinstein,
Canada, 2008, 93 minutes

Friday May 22 | 7:30 PM | Granville 7 Theatre
Second screening:
Monday, May 25, 1:00 pm, Pacific Cinémathèque.

Filmmaker in attendance at both screenings.

One day Fumiko Ishioka, the coordinator of the Tokyo Holocaust Education Centre, received a battered suitcase with the name Hana Brady and the word Waisenkind (orphan) painted on the front. She had no idea that this suitcase would set her on a journey that would not only change her life, but also the lives of thousands of children around the world. With the help of her young students (called the Small Wings), Fumiko decided to discover all she could about a little girl named Hana.

Her quest to put a face to a name and an old suitcase took her to the Czech Republic, where Hana was born in 1931, in the small village of Nove Mesto. When the Nazis invaded, Hanas parents were imprisoned and she was sent to a concentration camp in the walled city of Theresienstadt. In secret art classes, held without the permission of the Nazi guards, children like Hana drew what they saw and what they remembered of life before the war. These images, of picnics, swaying trees, and people holding hands, prompted Fumiko to go even further. Her search eventually led to Auschwitz, where Hanas name was marked with a single check mark, meaning she had died at the camp. But just above Hanas name, another name was inscribed: George Brady, who had survived the war. Not only had he survived, he was alive, well, and living in Toronto, with a passel of children and grandchildren of his own. George was Hanas older brother.

Director Larry Weinsteins stunning new documentary brings Hana and Georges remarkable story to life using dramatic recreations, family photographs, a gorgeously orchestrated soundtrack, and interviews with the people who knew and loved Hana.

Children in Japan and Toronto, who have been moved by Hana and Georges experiences, narrate the film. Inside Hanas Suitcase is told with immense grace, but packs a serious emotional punch. Through the small window of one little girls experience, the impact of the Holocaust hits home. Hanas suitcase has become an enduring symbol of love and courage, and a potent reminder of the need to stand up to intolerance and hatred. Her story, standing in for the many children silenced and lost forever to history, is a poignant lesson from the past to the future. Somehow the story was meant to be told, says George. We are the better for it.

To learn more about the film and the festival please follow this link:


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