UK Premiere, MS Slavic 7. Interrogating the archive with Sofia Bohdanowicz and Deragh Campbell

MS Slavic 7 -Screening at the Open City Documentary Festival in London September 9th

MS Slavic 7

After being appointed literary executor, a young woman named Audrey uncovers a series of letters that her great-grandmother had written to a fellow poet. Both displaced from Poland, Zofia Bohdanowiczowa and Nobel Prize nominee Józef Wittlin corresponded from 1957- 1964 between Toronto, Wales and New York City. Set over the course of three days, Audrey embarks on a journey to Houghton Library at Harvard University to translate and make sense of Zofia’s words. Coming up against her aunt’s disapproval as well as complications of access to the material, Audrey struggles to dig into an intimate past while facing her own existentially troubled present. Between silent segments of handling the letters at the archive and discursive monologues that articulate her findings, the film traces the emotional movement through the research process.

Co-directors Sofia Bohdanowicz and Deragh Campbell return to the character of Audrey Benac they created in Never Eat Alone (2016) and continued to explore in Veslemøy’s Song(2018), again poignantly blending together family history and fiction. Complicating notions of temporality and distance, the film sensitively reveals the intangible qualities be- hind objects and the impressions they leave. At once deconstructing and participating in a search for meaning, MS Slavic 7 interrogates the tragic beauty and transcendent potential of human connection.

Sofia Bohdanowicz and Deragh Campbell’s distinctive hybrid follows a young woman on a research trip to Harvard University Archives, where the letters of her great-grandmother—the renowned Polish poet, Zofia Bohdanowiczowa—are held. What begins as a purely scholarly endeavour soon sees simmering tensions bubbling to the surface. Familial resentments, intellectual disagreements, and matters of the heart all enter the fray, each punctuated by moments of bone-dry humour. Part of an ongoing series of collaborations between its co-directors, MS Slavic 7 is an elegant and witty investigation into the burdens of ancestral legacy, and the melancholy present in a family’s archived memories.

UK Premiere

Screens with:
Dalsza Modlitwa-(Another Prayer)
Sofia Bohdanowicz | 2013 | Canada | 6′

Dalsza Modlitwa explores filmmaker Sofia Bohdanowicz’s efforts to recreate a memory of her grandmother.

Followed by a Skype Q&A with director Sofia Bohdanowicz

Read an essay on MS Slavic 7 by Cathleen Evans

About the contributor

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