ABC doco tells of pilgrimage to Poland

Dr Kamila Klausinska, Fay Sussman and Judy Menczel.

MANY Polish Holocaust survivors and their families harbour anger towards Poland.

Musician Fay Sussman was one of them, until recently when she embarked on a moving pilgrimage, recorded in a captivating documentary called Fay’s Journey, set to screen on Compass this weekend.

The child of Holocaust survivors, Sussman was born in Poland in 1946, and had vowed never to return.

But as filmmaker Judy Menczel, who accompanied Sussman and her band on their trip, along with fellow filmmaker Paul Green, commented, “[Fay overcame] her fears – and the anger she inherited – to make this surreal pilgrimage as a gesture of hope and love.”

Created from a longer documentary called Pockets of Hope, the production of Fay’s Journey, which also features footage not previously seen, was sparked by Sussman’s own story, and an invitation from Dr Kamila Klausinska – a young Polish woman working to restore Jewish memory – who invited her to perform in Poland.

As Sussman introduced her performance of the Yiddish song Makh Tsu Di Eygelekh on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto, she remarked, “Without looking back, sometimes you can’t appreciate the beauty of looking forwards.”

Although Poland’s recent law restricts free discussion of the country’s involvement in the Holocaust, the documentary brings to light pockets of hope that point towards more productive dialogue, and an appreciation of Jewish heritage.

“Fay met with young local people preserving Jewish graves which lay forgotten in people’s backyards,” remarked Menczel.

Jeremy Jones, director of international and of community affairs at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, recently met with Poland’s newly appointed ambassador to Australia, Michal Kolodzieski and commented, “Pockets of Hope (and Fay’s Journey) document the reality of some Poles today … who are genuinely committed to developing better relations between Polish people and Jews in and from Poland and elsewhere.”

Hoping to help pave the way for future reconciliation between Poland and the Jewish people, the production team are planning on creating an educational package around the film, and are seeking funds through Documentary Australia Foundation.

Fay’s Journey is on ABC on March 24 at 6pm and March 25 at 11am.

SOPHIE DEUTSCH