My Name is Sara Review – Compelling, Extraordinary Character Driven Performances

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My Name is Sara, from Strand Releasing, presents the true story of Sara Goralnik, a Polish Jew, who escaped Nazi capture by denying herself, her family, heritage, and religion by becoming someone else and hiding in Ukraine.

The film opens with two teenagers, Sara, played by Zuzanna Surowy, and her brother Moishe, played by Konard Cichon, running through the woods at night. Behind them, the are being followed, flashlights can be seen, and German is heard as the two reach a river. As Sara cannot swim, her strength is reduced to panic and her brother is sure they will be caught.

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As the Nazi’s approach the river, we realize the pair is hiding underneath an uprooted tree. They continue to run, Sara barely makes it across the river, and wouldn’t have without the help of her brother.

They reach their destination, an elderly woman’s cottage, whom their father had paid to keep them if things fell apart. Moishe explains she is scared, and she can hide her heritage more than he, and anyone who harbors Jews are being killed. They agree to leave in the morning. Sara looks at him, while he sleeps and realizes his Jewish features will get them both killed and she departs, alone into the night.

After a grueling escape to the Ukrainian countryside, Sara steals her Christian best friend’s identity and happens upon a farmer, Ivan, played by Pawel Krolikowski who explains he will taker her to his brother who just lost his nanny. She is taken in by a farmer, Pavlo, played by Eryk Lubos, and his young wife, Nadya, played by Michalina Olszanska.

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After a series of basic Christian faith tests, Sara has satisfied the families concern over harboring a Jew. She begins her life as a nanny, taking care of the two boys, and helping Nadya around the house. They provide room and board, no salary. She is safe, at least for now. She soon discovers the dark secrets of her employers’ marriage, compounding her own greatest secret that she must protect.

As it is German occupied territory, every farmer owes a tax and must provide the German’s wheat, bread, and other staples. As they are in the town square selling their wares, a causal bargaining becomes a threat to one’s life. For challenging the support tax, it increases.

Soon Sara is occupancy Nadya with her sons to church and meets Father Oleksa, played byWieslaw Komasa, and as she takes communion and attends confession, he becomes a confident to her darkest secret. We see the rarest of truths in action as he demonstrates his Christian faith.

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As the war is nearing an end, the resistance is growing, the Germans are stealing from the farmers and the Russians are building an army and stealing from the farmers. Pavlo created an underground bunker to hide food for his family, so that even in the worst of times, they would not starve. His dedication to his family and to survival, is clouded by his excessive drinking, rash behavior, and fear.

My Name is Sara, tells the true-life story of Sara Goralnik, a 13-year-old Polish Jew whose entire family was killed by Nazis in September 1942. Sara, as we see at the end of the film lives as her mother begged her, survive, live to tell, do what you must.

My Name is Sara, a compelling story of survival against all odds. As it is a true story, we can see the transformation as Sara moves away from the security of her home and even her brother with a determination to escape the Nazi’s death decree on all Jews.

The talented ensemble draws the viewer into this world. They deliver memorable performances that resonate with extraordinary unforgettable moments: Pavlo portrays moments of genuine humanity and moments of egregious and unforgivable sin; Sara’s determination to survive, her transformation as she moves from hiding to a member of the resistance; and the psychological implications of war and how the characters respond as they live with the possibility of death daily.

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The film reinforces all the historical references that we have come to understand millions endured during Hitler’s reign. Even in apparent safety, survival was dependent on one’s own wherewithal and commitment to maintaining the secret. For the few lucky ones that escaped, the stories live on so that the generations that come next and after will never forget.

Executive Producer Mickey Shapiro is the son of Sara Góralniak and Asa Shapiro, he was born in a displaced person’s camp. Involved in multiple charities and organizations dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust, including Steven Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation. He credits his family history as the inspiration for his philanthropy.

My Name is Sara opens in theaters Friday July 22, 2022. See it.


Country: Poland.

Language: English, Ukraine, German.

Runtime: 111minutes.

Director: Steven Oritt

Producer: Steven Oritt, Justyna Pawlak. 

Executive Producer: Mickey Shapiro.

Writer: David Himmelstein, based on a true story.

Cast: Zuzanna Surowy, Eryk Lubos, Michalina Olszańska, Pawel Krolikowski, Artur Sokolski, Marcin Sokolski, Konard Cichon, Wieslaw Komasa.

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