August 27, 2020–May 31, 2021
Resolutely life-affirming and unexpectedly universal.Michael Fox, KQED Arts
Irmi Selver (1906–2004) had a long and fascinating life, one touched by love and tragedy, challenges and resilience. This documentary portrait, based on her memoirs and codirected by her daughter Veronica Selver and Susan Fanshel, traces Irmi’s personal story across the political and social history of the last century. From her upbringing in a Jewish family in Chemnitz, Germany, to her flight from Nazism with her husband and young children, to beginning life again in New York—not just once but twice—the telling of Irmi’s story unfolds against a treasure trove of archival imagery, photographs, drawings, and home movies that capture the spirit of each chapter of her life. Beautifully conceived, finely balanced, and exquisitely paced, the film features a voiceover by Hanna Schygulla, who reads Irmi’s memoirs, and a score by Todd Boekelheide, featuring Sarah Cahill on piano. Selver and Fanshel bring their years of experience as social issue documentary filmmakers to this project, resulting in a work steeped in wisdom and nuance that shares the joie de vivre that Irmi Selver embodied.