“The Ship That Turned Back” is a 35 minute "documemory" film about the acclaimed filmmaker Irving Saraf's dramatic childhood escape as a seven-year-old Jewish boy from Nazi-occupied Poland to Palestine. This refugee story begins in September 1939 and ends in July 1940. After the Nazi invasion, Irving and his family journeyed by train from Lodz to Warsaw, to Austria, to Italy and then by ship in an aborted attempt to get to Palestine. It’s about a ship that turned back, its travelers captives of Mussolini's declaration of war, and then saved at sea by the British navy. This is the story of a small boy on a ship anchored in Malta Bay, planes over his head, bombs falling around him, torpedoes slicing the water like giant sharks, targeting submarines and destroyers, the air rampant with explosions and sirens, and the war appearing to the boy as a giant movie in the sky. Based on Irving’s memoir and creatively reimagined by filmmaker Allie Light, this hybrid film combines memories, art, dramatic reenactments with family, and children’s drawings of key moments in the boy’s life, alongside archival footage curved to fit the personal arc of Irving’s journey. Two perspectives of the same story are blended, that of the adult Irving and the child Ignacy (Irving’s Polish birth name). Irving enlists his young grandchildren to be active participants in the retelling of his childhood story. The story is reinforced with interviews with adult family members who are now gone. This film keeps their stories alive for future generations, personalizing history. Beyond the personal, the film is set against the backdrop of world events and world powers including the rise of fascism and world history’s effect on the individual. The child lives it, the adult remembers it.

Director - Allie Light

Producer - Julia Hilder

Editor - Anne Flatte'

Producer - David Lundstedt
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