A SONG FOR YOU is a documentary that goes down like the first draw of a good espresso, made more perfect by a bit of sweet steamed milk. Three sisters travel to the heart of their family’s greatest threats and strengths, retracing the family's escape from the Nazis. The story is an applaud for those who refused to let civilization fail. This film is the most recent collaboration between co-directors Sharon Karp and Sylvia Malagrino, veteran filmmakers whose works define resilience under the stress of humanitarian violation. A SONG FOR YOU premiered January11, 2014, at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Center.
In 1943, preschooler Susie Karp climbed the Pyrenees with her parents, to escape Nazi occupied France. The Karp family owe their lives to the kindness of strangers, particularly rural French Resistance fighters, The Maquis. The Maquis ferried the family through the final leg of the journey into Spain and ultimately to North America. The escape took five perilous years of fear and persistence.
This film differs from THE SOUND OF MUSIC and other stories of the genre reflecting such escapes from tyranny. Susie, like her parents, is a first generation holocaust survivor. Her two younger sisters, born in Chicago after the escape, are second generation survivors. There is a phenomenon of Family Culture Post Traumatic Stress, observed in circumstances of humanitarian violation. This stress often affects generations in the family who did not directly endure the primary assaults. Susie served as the bridge between her parents and her siblings. She and her parent’s primary trauma became integrated across generations, to her younger sisters. Culture is how people define themselves, The Karp Family culture was defined by the embedded fears of impending disaster, related to the perils of the escape. A SONG FOR YOU addresses the need for the sisters, after the deaths of their parents, to understand the cross generational phenomenon that punctuated their upbringing.
A SONG FOR YOU is not sad, but gripping largely because of its elegant film craft. Modern European geography is used as the backdrop for historical recollection and a vehicle for emotional engagement. Relative stability of the landscape and cultures of the European Holocaust, mirrors the resistance to the consequences of heinous atrocities perpetrated there.
All family sagas are a matter of interpretation of primary and secondary memories by the relatives. Karp Family archival films, recordings, documents and songs illustrate those memories. The survival of the supporting documentation, matches the strengths of the family whose life is depicted, A SONG FOR YOU becomes a song for us.
A Song For You. (2014) directed by Sharon Karp and Sylvia Malagrino. Media Monster USA (80 min.)