They set out to reconstruct a lost synagogue.
They recovered a lost world.
a feature documentary by Yari & Cary Wolinsky
2015, USA, 85min, Screening Formats: DVD, BluRay and DCP
Rivaling the greatest wooden architecture in history, the synagogues of 18th-century Poland inspired artists Rick and Laura Brown of Handshouse Studio to embark on a 10-year pursuit—to reconstruct the elaborate roof and painted ceiling of the Gwozdziec synagogue. Leading over 300 students and professionals from 16 countries, the Browns grapple not just with the echoes of World War II when these buildings were destroyed by the Nazis, but also with warped timbers, tricky paints, and period hand tools. By the end of the project, they have done more than reconstruct a lost synagogue: they have recovered a lost world. In 2014, the Gwozdziec roof was unveiled as the centerpiece of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.
"Raise the Roof crosses the limits of religion to show selfless compassion."
–Margot Carvallo, Neighbor Newspapers, Atlanta
Raise the Roof
is distributed by the National Center for Jewish Film.
People are saying…
…you see the joy of being involved in so spiritual an endeavor. The film accelerates like the project itself, becoming increasingly dramatic and exuberant as the many involved approach – and then reach – their goal. “Raise the Roof” assumes a new dimension in this movie, an inspiring documentary indeed. —Carlo Wolff, Cleveland Jewish Times
Beautiful photography, I mean beautiful! Really creative angles and so many pleasing CU moments (raindrops dripping, grinding wode), cinema verité intimacy…you guys have succeeded in bringing the “idea” of history to life, for yourselves and for your teammates, with consuming, empathic, moral, invigorating investigation and action. Nothing else could turn our understanding of the past to what it needs to be: not master narratives on a page, or even alternative contesting narratives, but as action. Making things. People making history. —Melissa Totten, M+Co
The film is absolutely WONDERFUL. Beautifully, masterfully filmed, compelling storytelling, I was thoroughly immersed, enchanted. It is so difficult to create a masterly film from such complex material over an extended period of time. What to include, what to leave out? How did you ever manage it? Congratulations!! Perfection!! —Shana Penn, Executive Director, Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture
The visual storytelling and rhythm had great energy. The interviews were, in all seriousness, some of the best I've watched in a historical doc. What is the most impressive…is how you took the Brown's central thesis, to reach deep into history and pull something back, and made it the goal of the film. In doing so, the work that went into documenting Gwoździec's rebirth, both for the Handshouse and for you, took on such a weight for me as a viewer. It was just very successful. It's that simple. —Greg Croteau