Dir. Yari Wolinsky and Cary Wolinsky
(85 min, USA/Poland, 2014)
Polish with English subtitles
DC Premiere

Inspired by images of magnificent wooden synagogues in 18th century Poland—the last of which were destroyed by the Nazis—artists Rick and Laura Brown set out to reconstruct a replica of the stunning, mural-covered Gwozdziec synagogue. Working with a team of 300 artisans and students from around the world, using only period hand tools and techniques, the Browns finally realize their dream. This remarkable 10-year project is set against the backdrop of a 1,000-year history of Polish Jews.

Co-presented by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, the Polish Library of Washington, DC, and the Documentary Center at The George Washington University

Polish Embassy 3 Co-sponsored by the Embassy of Poland


ReFraming the Artist Reframing the Artist – Exploring the artists’ experience through film.

Sunday, February 28, 11:30 am
JCC of Greater Washington
6125 Montrose Road
Rockville, MD

Tuesday, March 1, 8:30 pm
1529 16th Street
Washington, DC

Thursday, March 3, 6:30 pm
Bethesda Row Cinema
7235 Woodmont Ave
Bethesda, MD

Tuesday, March 1 screening followed by a panel conversation with organizers of the 10 year reconstruction of the Gwoździec synagogue project in Poland and principal characters in Raise the Roof, Rick Brown and Laura Brown; Matthew Jeffs, a student involved in the rebuilding of the Synagogue; director and editor Yari Wolinsky; and producer Cary Wolinsky.

Thursday, March 3 screening followed by a conversation with Rachel Debuque, a student participant in building the Gwoździec synagogue timber frame, and Emmy-Award Winning Filmmaker and Director of The Documentary Center at The George Washington University, Nina Seavey.

rick brownRick Brown is Co-Founder and President of Handshouse Studio, Inc. He is a Professor of Sculpture at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He received a Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a Master of Fine Arts from Washington University School of Fine Arts, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Georgia.

laura brownLaura Brown is Co-founder and Director of Handshouse Studio, Inc. and faculty of sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She earned a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a MFA from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Yari Wolinsky films the Gwoździec synagogue painting team at Handhouse Studio in Norwell, MA.After graduating from Bard College in 2004, Yari Wolinsky worked for John Rubin Productions, Inc. on three one-hour, PBS documentary films: Raptor Force, The Living Weapon, and Ape Genius. He has worked as director and editor on narrative and documentary films for educational, editorial, nonprofit, and commercial clients that include Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, National Geographic, PBS, AARP, Issey Miyake, Helping Hands Monkey Helpers, Life is Good, and Marriott Hotels. Wolinsky began documenting the Browns efforts to rebuild a Polish wooden synagogue in 2007.

cary wolinskyCary Wolinsky began working as a photojournalist for the Boston Globe in 1968 while completing a degree in journalism at Boston University’s School of Communications. Wolinsky is known for his international, historical, scientific and cultural photographic essays published regularly in National Geographic magazine since 1977. His numerous stories include: Sichuan: Where China Changes Course, Inside the Kremlin, Australia A Harsh Awakening, New Eyes on the Oceans, Diamonds – The Real Story, and The Down Side of Being Upright. Wolinsky’s articles and photographs have been printed in publications throughout the world. In 2006, he began collaborating with his son, Yari Wolinsky, to produce  documentary films.

Nina seaveyNina Gilden Seavey is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and a nearly 30-year veteran of the documentary world. Seavey is the director of The Documentary Center in the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University, which she founded in 1990. She concurrently serves as the Co-Director of the Center for Innovative Media. She holds the academic rank of full Research Professor of History and Media and Public Affairs with appointments both in the Department of History and in the School of Media and Public Affairs in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at GW.

rachel debuqueRachel Debuque is profession artist who received her MFA degree at The University of Georgia. She has exhibited extensively including, New York, Taiwan, Croatia, and Philadelphia. She was an artist in residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art’s residency program and a Southern Constellations fellow at the Elsewhere Living Museum. She currently lives in Washington D.C. and is an assistant professor at George Mason University.

Matthew JeffsAs an undergraduate attending the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2007, Matthew Jeffs was introduced to Laura and Rick Brown and their organization Handshouse Studio. After receiving his BFA he helped lead workshops throughout Poland over several years that culminated in the recreation of the Gwozdziec Synagogue roof for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. He has continued to work with Handshouse on a variety of projects and his relationship with the organization continues to grow. The common belief that a better world is possible through the creation of objects and intense collaborative effort finds its way into his own artistic practice.


“In the engaging, lively […] documentary, viewers follow the Browns and their international team of artisans and hundreds of students to Poland, where in summer workshops […] they recreated the […] Gwozdziec Synagogue, originally located in what is now the Ukraine.” –The Huffington Post

Online ticket sales for individual shows close at midnight the day prior to the screening (the text “Online Booking Closed” will appear in the pull-down menu below when advance sales end). Space allowing, door sales start at each venue one hour prior to the first show of the day at that venue.