A Great-Granddaughter's Legacy

Post-Production Grant

PrintI am pleased to announce that the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture has awarded a grant to help support post-production of the Chasing Portraits documentary film.


Gearing up for Kickstarter Campaign

photo 1I’ve been hard at work on the behind-the-scenes components needed to launch the Chasing Portraits Kickstarter fundraising campaign. There’s a new 3 minute trailer based on the footage shot in Poland. I’ve been writing the project description and putting together the rewards. There’s also an original score being composed for the piece! And this afternoon I went into San Francisco to film a pre-trailer bit where I sit and talk to the camera about my project and why I’m fundraising on Kickstarter. Here’s a photo of what filming that bit looked like.



Book Deal!

Publishers weekly

It’s been a busy few months for the Chasing Portraits project. Between the return from the two week filming trip to Poland in October, a new talk, the Indiewire Project of the Week win, the announcement of the grant awarded by the Claims Conference, and now this book deal…. well, WOW. It’s going to be another crazy, busy year, but a year about which I am incredibly excited. I am writing like a mad woman to finish the book so that I can put it into the hands of my editor at Berkley/Penguin before the end of the year so it can be in YOUR hands in late 2016!

A really enormous thank you goes out to a lot of friends and supporters who have helped me accomplish so much and to reach this particular goal. A special thank you to Jill Swenson of Swenson Book Development and to Sharlene Martin of Martin Literary Management. A year ago Jill began working with me on the Chasing Portraits book project. Her belief in the story, and my ability to tell it, helped me as I tackled writing the non-fiction book proposal. A year of telephone calls, Tweets, Facebook posts, and emails helped bring shape and narrative arc to the story. It is because of Jill’s wisdom and guidance that I produced a solid book proposal which led to fantastic literary representation from Sharlene Martin. Sharlene is the kind of agent every aspiring writer dreams of and should be so lucky to have on their team. After a few hours of Jill’s putting my query into Sharlene’s email and Sharlene’s reading of my proposal, I had representation. Her belief in my book project was wholehearted from the get go and the day she landed me this book deal was a fabulous one indeed! I am delighted to be working with Natalee Rosenstein at Berkley/Penguin.

There are now many new milestones to reach in this book writing journey. I promise to share and post many of them here.

- Elizabeth

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) Awards Chasing Portraits Grant!

Chasing Portraits_DSC4413T, the documentary film project, is pleased to announce it has been awarded a $20,000 grant from The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference). The film will use this support to complete filming in Israel, New York, Warsaw, and Los Angeles before moving into post-production in 2016. The funds will be directed to Chasing Portraits’ fiscal sponsor, the National Center for Jewish Film.

Elizabeth Rynecki, the film’s producer, is both the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors.  Chasing Portraits is the story of her search for the art of her great-grandfather, Moshe Rynecki. Moshe, a Warsaw based artist who painted scenes of the Polish-Jewish community in the interwar years, perished in the Holocaust. The film raises questions about legacy, history, provenance of art, loss, and forgiveness.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) represents world Jewry in negotiating for compensation and restitution for victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs. Among its activities, the Claims Conference administers compensation funds, funds social welfare services, and allocates funds to preserve the memory and lessons from the Shoah. For more information, please visit www.claimscon.org









Indiewire Project of the Month – Please vote!

photo 1 In early February you helped Chasing Portraits win Indiewire’s Project of the Week contest. Thank you for your support from around the world! Votes came in from the United States (California, Oregon, Minnesota, and New York, to just name a few!), the UK, Spain, Australia, Singapore, Finland, and more! Now the film is in the run off for Indiewire’s Project of the Month. Voting is today through Friday morning (it ends at 11 am EST).

PLEASE vote for Chasing Portraits. A win is a really big deal for the project – it helps give us more publicity, it gives us another milestone to share with potential funders, and the winner receives a consultation from the Tribeca Film Insitute!

To vote, follow this link. Select Chasing Portraits, provide your email address, and then Polldaddy will send you an email to confirm your vote.

Thank you! And please, spread the word!

photo 2


Indiewire Project of the Week!







An ENORMOUS “thank you,” to so many people who made the Chasing Portraits Project of the Week win on Indiewire possible! You not only voted for my docfilm, but you shared the story, asked friends, family, and co-workers to vote for the project. You voted from New York and Spain, Poland and California, Australia and Singapore, London and Toronto. The network of people who support this project is amazing. Thank you, and stay tuned, for news, travel, and press!

All the very best, Elizabeth


Vote TODAY for Chasing Portraits to win Indiewire’s Project of the Week

On Monday Chasing Portraits was named Indiewire’s Project of the Day. Today is the run off to determine the Project of the Week!


Please vote for Chasing Portraits to help it win! (Yes, this link will take you to the voting page!)chasing-portraits


The weekly prize is a digital distribution consultation with SnagFilms, and the Project of the Month winner (to be decided later) will receive a creative consultation with the Tribeca Film Institute and will become eligible for Project of the Year. And, of course, it’s GREAT publicity for the project.


Chasing Portraits is Indiewire’s Project of the Day!

The Indiewire Project of the Day features films in progress. Today the site is featuring Chasing Portraits as its Project of the Day! On Friday readers vote on the project they liked best. The winning project goes onto another vote at the end of the month! Winner get prizes… the weekly winner gets a digital distribution consultation from SnagFilms (Indiewire’s parent company). And the monthly winner receives a creative consultation from Tribeca Film Institute’s Scripted Programming Department or Documentary Programming Department.

Don’t forget to vote for Chasing Portraits on Friday!

You can see the project featured here:
screen shot indiewire


History’s Footprints

E speakingAt the end of my Chasing Portraits talk I have a slide that says, “My Goal: To share my great-grandfather’s artwork with others.” And then just below that it says, “Things you can do to help.” Author Eileen Grafton, has taken my call for help to heart in a blog post she wrote after attending my most recent talk at the Sausalito Woman’s Club.” I’m excerpting the first two paragraphs of her blog post titled, “History’s Footprints,” here and then providing a link over to her blog for the rest.

History’s Footprints

“History always leaves a legacy behind for those who are willing to look for it.

Elizabeth Rynecki is one such seeker. Recently I attended a talk Elizabeth gave about her “Chasing Portraits” film project, held in a beautiful women’s clubhouse nestled in the Sausalito hills overlooking San Francisco Bay. Elizabeth is the great-granddaughter of Moshe Rynecki, a prolific Warsaw-based artist who documented the Polish Jewish community in the interwar years (1918-39) in over 800 paintings and sculptures. Sadly, most of his body of work was lost in the Holocaust. Or so people thought.” [Read the rest on Eileen’s blog]

How do I know Eileen? She first reached out to me on Twitter because of her interest in history, family legacies, the Second World War, and my recent trip to Poland. Eileen’s passions are history and story. She writes historical fiction and is at work on two books with historical ties to the Middle East. On her “about me,” blog page she writes, “One is an archaeological suspense linking 1st century Israel to modern-day America. The second is a Holocaust Survivor love story I’m writing with co-author Susy Flory. My blog entries deal with my love of history, writing, and sometimes a bit of whimsey.”

Thank you, Eileen, and all who help me to share my great-grandfather’s art and the Chasing Portraits story!

Cafe Scene – 1993 Auction Catalog Find

cafe sceneMy favorite sorts of emails? The ones with the lovely and unexpected gift of the find of a Rynecki painting I’ve never seen. Yesterday I got an email from my Polish provenance research friend, Yagna Yass Alston, with a photo from a 1993 Sotheby’s Tel Aviv auction catalog. The photo shows a painting, a Cafe Scene. This photo is not great, and I’ve now ordered a copy of the catalog (it’s amazing what you can find online!) so I should have a better image in a few days. The page from the auction catalog shows the painting and provides a brief biography. But the incredibly fascinating bit (yes, above and beyond seeing a new image!)? It says…”after the German retreat, 150 works by Rynecki were discovered in the basement of a Warsaw apartment block, including the present work.” This is NOT a piece put up for auction from my family. So does this mean that whoever sold this piece has 149 others?! If so, who is this person? Where do they live? How do I find out more about what else they’ve got? And who owns this piece today? And do THEY have any others? So many questions. Like I always say, it’s why the documentary film is titled, Chasing Portraits

[note: post updated 20 January 2015 with higher quality images from the auction catalog.]



catalog cover