Mary Skinner in Chgo

SendlerHeadshotWebFilmmaker Mary Skinner was in Chicago yesterday for an advance screening of In The Name of Their Mothers, her new BioDoc about Irena Sendler. Working under the fiscal sponsorship of Women Make Movies, Mary’s rough cut was ready for local investors and others in Chicago’s large and supportive Polish-American community.  Ironically, one of the obstacles to completion is funding to pay German archives for rare and emotionally-potent footage from the Warsaw Ghetto.

A Polish Catholic social worker, Irena Sendler was 29 year old when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939.  Working with a trusted group of mostly female colleagues, she managed to rescue approximately 2,500 Jewish children, many of whom survived the war and some of whom were even reunited with family members after the war because of Irena’s meticulous record-keeping.

In the private reception after the screening, Mary said she moved to Warsaw in 2004 and spent five months interviewing Irena, slowly gaining her trust until she agreed to be filmed on camera.  The eyes of this 93 year old woman are so clear and forceful that we can all see the determination and intelligence that enabled her to carry forward under such great odds. At one point, Irena says she may not be a perfect person but “I’m very organized.”  Indeed!

Kudos to Mary and her collaborators for dedicating themselves to this story, and sincere thanks to the Copernicus Foundation for hosting the screening.

Irena Sendler: May her name be for a blessing!

Click HERE to access the film’s website.

Click HERE to read Irena Sendler’s page on the Vad Vashem website.

In The Name of Their Mothers currently runs 59 minutes in English & Polish (with English subtitles). 


With Mary Skinner (center) & Elisa Schoenberger (right) at the Copernicus Foundation on West Lawrence in Chicago. Photo Credit: Dorthea Juul (11/22/09)

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