May 20, 2008
For immediate release
Starting Friday, May 23, the eye-opening documentary Refusenik will begin a run at the Plaza de Oro Theater, 371 South Hitchcock Way, Santa Barbara. Hailed as “absorbing” and “timely” by Variety, the film chronicles the thirty-year movement to free Soviet Jews. It shows how a small grassroots effort bold enough to take on a Cold War superpower blossomed into an international human rights campaign that engaged the disempowered and world leaders alike. Told through the eyes of activists on both sides of the Iron Curtain – many of whom survived punishment in Soviet Gulag labor camps – the film is a tapestry of first-person accounts of heroism, sacrifice, and ultimately, liberation.
The film’s producer/director is Laura Bialis, the daughter of Santa Barbara resident Ellen Bialis. Ellen Bialis is a staunch supporter of education in the area, supporting programs at Harding School and working as a Dean’s Council member at the Gevirtz School at UC Santa Barbara. “It’s little surprise that a member of Ellen’s family would be so active in the documentary process,” says Dean Jane Close Conoley of the Gevirtz School. “Laura’s film Refusenik is a powerful example of how film can teach us history in vivid ways.”
Laura Bialis’s film Tak for Alt, the story of Holocaust survivor turned Civil Rights activist Judy Meisel, won the Anti-Defamation League’s Dore Schary Award in 2000. In addition to her other films, she directed View from the Bridge: Stories from Kosovo, the first feature documentary ever made on the war-torn province. An avid historian and film buff, Laura founded the Foundation for Documentary Projects as a way to fuse her love of history with her passion for filmmaking.
For more information about the film and to view its trailer, see refusenikmovie.com
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