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Jewish filmmaker relates to Rwanda.
I Contributing Writer
Saturday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m.
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3y 8 • 2014
eah Warshawski, close to a
grandmother who has survived
the Holocaust, readily reacts to
issues surrounding genocide and relates
to the plight long faced by Rwandans.
It i l a filmmaker, vis-
ited Rwanda in 2007
as part of a work
project, she did not
expect to see an
picture industry, but
that's what she found
and decided the
realization was worth
The result is a new film, Finding
Hillywood, which chronicles one
man's effort to heal his country while
confronting his past. As director and
producer, Warshawski has captured the
start of Rwanda's film initiatives and the
pioneers bringing local films to rural
Finding Hillywood tentatively will be
shown at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May
28, at the Main Art Theatre in Royal
Oak. Under a distribution arrangement,
a required number of tickets must be
purchased online by Thursday, May 15,
for the screening to take place.
"The film gives audiences a differ-
ent sense of Rwanda than what they've
seen in the media over the past 20
years because of the genocide says
Warshawski, 35, in a phone conversa-
tion from her home in Seattle. "I like
that it causes people to think a little bit
"When I was working on that other
project in Rwanda, I met some local
filmmakers who told me they were part
of a film festival.
"That's really how I was introduced
to the idea and intrigued by the concept
of Rwandans watching movies together
and hearing their own language. For
many viewers, it was the first time they
had ever seen a movie'
This is the first feature film for
Warshawski, who specializes in docu-
mentary-style video content, television
shows and short films in remote loca-
tions. She has worked in more than 30
countries for major corporations, such
as Microsoft and Starbucks.
"I ended up as a filmmaker because
of an introduction I had while working
on a boat in Hawaii:' says Warshawski,
who has a bachelor's degree in
Japanese language from the University
of Hawaii and did translation for
Japanese tourists. "On the boat, I met
someone who helped me get a produc-
Warshawski went on to work in the
marine department for major features
and shows, including The Rundown,
Hawaii, Baywatch and Lost. She has
begun work on her next project, a
documentary about her grandmother,
"I didn't go to film school: says the
producer-director, who lived in Ann
Arbor for almost two years when she
was between schools and working for
Cafe Zola. "I had amazing mentors:"
Two artistic mentors were her par-
ents, Evy Warshawski, a former direc-
tor of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival,
and Morrie Warshawski, a freelance
art consultant who wrote the book
Shaking the Money Tree and is consult-
ing producer for Finding Hillywood.
Warshawski's husband, Todd
Soliday, did the animations and graph-
ics for the film set in Rwanda.
"I hope audiences walk away from
Finding Hillywood thinking about
the world a little differently:' says
Warshawski, whose great uncle, Isak
Federman, started the Midwest Center
for Holocaust Education in Kansas.
"Everybody has a story. Although
there are a lot of things you can't realize
when seeing a person, you find each
one relatable after you start talking.
"I want audiences to realize that
there are people on the other side of
the world doing amazing things with
very few resources, and I hope we've
shown the beauty of Rwanda and the
value of traveling and learning about
other cultures and people."
With enough advance sales, Finding
Hillywood will be shown at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 28, at the Main Art
Theatre, 118 N. Main, Royal Oak. $11.
Tickets must be purchased by May
15 through an Internet connection