Leaving Behind the Comforts of Predictability

Leaving Behind the Comforts of Predictability; Stories of love, family and war speak universal truths, and, when tied Into the Immigrant experience, the result Is often poignant and heartbreaking. Filmmaker Irina Patkanlan, a Russian Jewish Immigrant to America, captures the essence of these truths in a film and a video that are being shown at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Ms. Patkanlan’s film, “Long Distance,” is the true story of Russian immigrant Marina Palei’s escape to Poland from a conflicted Russia. Penniless, Ms. Palei (who plays herself) sends her son to Israel but cannot afford to communicate with him. With the help of., an expired telephone card and a little Ingenuity however he is able to connect to Poland for one-and-a-half seconds at a time. The son and mother communicate for hours this way back and forth with short phrases and one-word sentences. Ms. Patkanian’s video, “All Mine Carry With,” Is based mainly upon her own experiences rehearsing with director Slava Stepnofor for a New York production of Chekhov’s “The Seagull.” Like the main character, Ms. Patkanian ran away from her father to become an actress. It’s a story about adventure and endurance – New York style. The film and the video, written to convey both the struggle and the sense of estrangement In a now country, are both hopeful. Ms. Patkanian notes that her Immigrant characters focus on the empowerment that comes with “leaving behind the comforts of predictability, family and traditions to become coauthors of their own fate.” The film and video are part of the Immigrant Theatre Project’s “American Dreams: Theater About the Immigrant Experience,” a series of performances by immigrants from Colombia, Trinidad, Egypt, West Africa, Israel and the lands of the former Soviet Union.

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