Warsaw, January 2011

Animated film [10:33] directed by Miriam Harris with composer Juliet Palmer, 2013.

Collage image of a waiter in a cafe in 1930s Warsaw

Credits: co-direction (with Miriam Harris) and score (with Jean Martin)
Funder: Creative New Zealand
Screenings: Catskill Mountains Film Festival, New York (Best Animation Award); New Media Film Festival, Los Angeles (Best in the New Media category); Brooklyn Film Festival, New York (Spirit Award); Melbourne International Animation Festival; Dada Saheb Phalke International Film Festival, New Delhi (Special Mention); Animator Festival, Poznan, Poland; New York Independent Film Festival.

This nine and half minute long experimental film is based on a journey artist/animator Miriam Harris made to her war survivor mother’s birthplace of Warsaw, Poland in January 2011. The film shifts between the time and space of her recent journey to Warsaw from Auckland, and the years when her mother enjoyed living in the city with her family, before the trauma and upheaval of WWII. Through an original soundtrack, drawing, collage, and painted and moving image, this poignant film brings to life the experience of a Jewish daughter returning to a place built in her imagination, through stories and recounted memory, and through the new experience of being in Warsaw, long after her mother had fled to make a new life for herself in Auckland.

‘Warsaw, January 2011’ was co-directed by animator/artist Miriam Harris and composer Juliet Palmer, and created in collaboration with Kate Barton and Jean Martin. Live footage filmed in both Warsaw and Auckland co-exists with drawing, collage, old photographs, and puppets, whilst drawing on a rich East European tradition of modernist graphics and animation. The approach to sound is similarly textured, incorporating recordings made on location, twenty-first century experimental compositions, the human voice, pre-war poetry by the Polish Jewish writer Julian Tuwim, and excerpts from the nineteenth century work of Warsaw composer Frédéric Chopin.