Chasing Portraits ★★½

SLIFF 2018 Spotlight

It eventually becomes apparent that 'Chasing Portraits' is not a traditional biodoc-by-proxy of director Elizabeth Rynecki’s ancestor, or even a delve into the annals of pre-War Jewish art history. Instead, the documentary is revealed as a fraught procedural about the filmmaker’s search for the physical art objects themselves; about said objects’ meaning (or lack thereof) to the myriad institutions and private individuals who possess them; and about Rynecki’s understanding of her family and her own place in history. The film is accordingly nothing so prosaic as "entertaining" or "interesting" in the manner of many documentaries about historical mysteries. This is a work of sorrowful passion, a pilgrimage to put white-gloved hand to painted paper and thereby achieve spiritual communion with the past...

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