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Lodz was one of the great centers of Jewish life in Europe and one of the few European cities that had a thriving Jewish community after the war until rising antisemitism drove most of the remaining Jews away. The lure of family mysteries lies at the heart of Still Life in Lodz, an emotionally riveting documentary that journeys to the historically tumultuous city of Lodz, Poland. Here, a surprise reunion with a painting that hung in the same apartment for 75 world-altering years becomes a probing investigation into the power of memory, art, time and resilience. What follows is a deeply personal detective story rich with twists and turns. But, equally, the film is an ode to the lost generations of Jewish Lodz and a look at how fragile—but also how incredibly necessary—our relationship with the past is for creating the future.

Emmy winning director Slawomir Grünberg follows Lilka Elbaum who literally slept under the painting growing up in Lodz after the war. It was the first thing she saw when she woke up, and the last thing she saw before she fell asleep.This painting hung on this very spot perhaps since the building was first inhabited in the late 1890s. Until the war these were Jewish families, then during the war, a German family, and then after the war, Lilka’s Jewish family. Hence, the painting ultimately became a silent witness to the tragic history of Lodz’s Jews. 

Film rental includes access to a Q&A with director Slawomir Grünberg, co-writer and subject Lilka Elbaum, and subject Paul Celler, moderated by Jon Gann.