First, we saw the theater. On the morning of the screening we decided to take a few hours off to enjoy the city. The weather was beautiful and we wanted to see the famous Hamburg harbor. While taking a walk on the old town central street we noticed a familiar image of a man hiding behind a door: the poster of The Three Stories of Galicia. It was right next to the poster of Eat, Pray, Love – the Hollywood blockbuster starring Julia Roberts. The movie theater “Passage” where our film was screening had a display of the different films playing that day. It was a good feeling to see our poster in such fine company!
In the evening, when we got to the theater to test the sound and picture and speak with our moderator, we had a chance to look around and enjoy the lobby of this remarkable movie theater. It was just recently fully renovated and preserved its look from the beginning of the century.
Looking at the theater, one can easily imagine the type of audience it must have been built for. People are wearing their evening best. The ladies are seated in comfortable leather chairs, while the gentlemen stay in line at the bar to get cocktails or a glass of wine. Perhaps somebody is waiting for their party to arrive… As the movie is about to start, everybody goes up the stairs covered in… a red carpet! Coming up these stairs everyone feels like a star.
The screening itself was pretty successful: all the tickets were sold out, more chairs needed to be brought in and every second member of the public had tears in their eyes. We must admit we had to have a few cocktails ourselves that evening to recover from this wonderful experience. The Q&A section afterwards proved once more that people who came to see our film knew a lot about the subject matter.
During the first screening we had one question about the credibility of the characters in our film; we were asked if we thought our characters were telling the truth. This question was in reference to Olia’s story as a representative of the Ukrainian resistance. Interestingly, just before we left for Hamburg somebody had asked as if we believed Aharon’s story. Our answer was that in all three instances we made a conscious choice to believe our characters and a conscious decision to present the events from their perspective. As one of our filmmaker friends from Hamburg said: “Somebody needed to start the three-way conversation. This film is a good start”.
So during this second screening, we were prepared to hear more comments like that, questioning our interpretation of the events and our choice of characters, but there were none. There were a lot of positive comments from the audience and a lot of interest when we shared some anecdotes about the making of the film.
We also have to say that we had a wonderful moderator, Claire Wilisch who is a documentary filmmaker herself and who really took the time to learn about us, about the film and the region itself. We were lucky and very happy to have her with us. Thanks Claire!
At the end, one of the members of the audience said he was from Lviv on a business trip and had learned about the film by accident. “You have made a film about my family, he said. My uncle and my father didn’t speak to each other for forty years because during the war they were fighting on opposite sides. Thank you for making this film”.