Interview with Screenwriter Karen Goldfarb (WHY IS TONIGHT)

1. What is your screenplay about?

The script tells the story of a family whose experience of being Jewish is radically different. The first passover is taking place in the Warsaw Ghetto and then about 30 years later, in the 1970’s.

In the American family, they worry over silly, banal things, One of the characters Ruthie worries about whether her mother will like her cooking — and the granddaughter is in a period of youthful rebellion. This is all part of life — most people would call it normal. But just about 30 years earlier, the family’s matriarch, Sybil and her family are fighting for their lives in Nazi-occupied Poland. The story brings together generations — but also shows what separates them.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dramedy?

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Although I did not have family (that I know of) who were killed in the Holocaust, I have always felt a powerful personal connection — and a responsibility to keep these stories alive. In that spirit, I made a documentary: “Fascination: Helena’s Story,” which is an intimate portrait of Holocaust survivor Helena Weinrauch.

I think it would be worth making a film based on this script, because it could be powerful reminder that these stories must be told, before it’s too late, because survivors are dying and soon, there will be no actual eye witnesses left. I also wanted to explore the complexity of being a survivor . I think many feel the need for a kind of persona — however, they arry within them, stories within stories. I would like to explore this with a film…

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Poignant, funny

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Casablanca! And The English Patient (they are similar in some way)
Both epic and hugely emotional.

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
About 6 months.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written one feature: “Hello Gorgeous,” which was a quarter finalist at the Austin Film Festival. I am currently working on another feature: “Frannie and Bubbe.”

I also wrote two shorts: “Here’s Lookin at You, Kid” (a spoof of Casablanca) and “”Lucky and the Pirates”.

With a partner, I have written two pilot scripts: “Chairs Nailed Down” and “The Madison”

I am also a journalist and have written many stories in that genre. During my time at Reuters, I was fortunate to interview many great directors, including Andrei Konchalavsky, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Jean Jacques Annaud.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

There are so many, but right now, I am infatuated with “Moon River.” I listen to it over and over.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

It was difficult to get the structure quite right. Initially I started with too many characters. Your wonderful feedback helped me to make it better.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about dogs and movies and travel and teaching — and cooking and Paris. (I have always loved Paris…”

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

I have always had good experiences with Film Freeway.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I was excited about the possibility of getting a reading. Also, I was hungry for some feedback. Initially, I was really excited because I received very positive feedback. That gave me a huge confidence boost.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Passover 1943, Sybil, in her thirties, tries to enjoy a meal wit her family but is interrupted as the war outside rages on and Nazi intrude.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Henryk/Mel: Shawn Devlin
Bekah/Ruthie: Hannah Ehman
Sybil: Julie Sheppard
Sam/Ben/Sidney/Nazi: Bill Poulin
Abby/Frannie/Daniellie: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Ellie/Lillian: Kyana Teresa

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