Contact: Barbara Wolinsky

Trillium Studios to Bring Uplifting Film "Raise the Roof" about the Reconstruction of a Polish Synagogue to Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Potsdam on May 17th, 2015

European film premier chronicles an improbable dream and explores the recovery of a lost world

NORWELL, MA – Tuesday, January 23, 2015—Trillium Studios announced today that it is releasing the European premiere of Raise the Roof at the Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Potsdam on May 17th. This uplifting film captures the journey of Rick and Laura Brown of Handshouse Studio as they reconstruct the elaborate roof and painted ceiling of the Gwoździec synagogue, an 18th century structure that rivals the greatest wooden architecture in history.  

Filmmakers Yari Wolinsky and Cary Wolinsky, also an award-winning National Geographic photographer, go behind the scenes to reveal the Browns’ decade-long endeavor to recreate a nearly lost piece of Polish Jewish history. This briskly paced detective tale examines how the synagogue was built, who built it, and why.  With the Browns leading more than 300 students and professionals from 16 countries, the film captures the echoes of World War II while revealing an optimistic and creative time in Jewish history that has been lost.  At one time, there were some 200 wooden synagogues across the Polish-Lithuanian countryside. None survived destruction during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

“This film is about a remarkable dream and a journey of re-discovery. It is a story of larger-than-life characters—one that starts with tragedy and ends in triumph,” said director Yari Wolinsky of Trillium Studios. “It highlights the cautious optimism of a new generation and a growing dialogue between Jews and Poles about the past and the future, providing a unique and positive way to connect with Jewish history.

Raise the Roof documents the challenges of the Browns and the Handshouse Studio team as they begin building the new Gwoździec roof in Poland. The crew has six weeks to hew, saw, and carve 200 freshly logged trees and assemble the structure with period hand tools and paints. Working against this deadline and despite torrential downpours and exhaustion, the team must create the structure and disassemble it again for shipping and eventual installation.  In this epic story, the team recovers more than an object—they recover a lost world. The magnificent, hand-made, nearly full-scale replica of the Gwoździec roof was unveiled in 2014 as the centerpiece of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. 

Tickets to the Raise the Roof screening on May 17th may be purchased from the Jewish Film Festival Berlin & Potsdam.

The project’s associate producer, Wiktoria Michałkiewicz, will be there to discuss the project and the film with the audience.

Visit for a movie trailer, press kit and for more information about future screenings.

About Trillium Studios
Trillium Studios ( is a family-owned business that creates elegant, concept driven, socially-conscious projects through films, photographs, exhibitions, magazine articles, books, and websites. Trillium’s projects span 44 countries and include work for National Geographic, The London Natural History Museum, Issey Miyake Design Studio, American Craft Magazine, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, AARP, Scientific American, Science News, Pacific Biosciences, Ten Speed Press, Canon and, Harvard Business Publishing. 

Photos are available at 

Click here for a PDF of the Raise the Roof Press Release