Survivor’s celebration of life

Survivor’s celebration of life

A short film by Melbourne performance artist Jane Korman about her 96-year-old mother Marysia was highly commended in the inaugural Isolation Film Festival.

WHEN the coronavirus lockdown started in March, Melbourne performance artist Jane Korman and her 96-year-old mother Marysia moved into the family’s rural holiday home in the Yarra Valley.

The small place, which Jane lovingly describes as a “shack”, has been owned by the family for more than 50 years and is set among native trees in Millgrove near Warburton.

While relaxing there, Jane heard about the Isolation Film Festival launched by the Classic Cinemas and went to work making a three-minute short film titled Marysia’s Majatek (Marysia’s Treasure), starring her Holocaust survivor mother.

Holocaust survivor Marysia with the blanket with her heartfelt messages.

When the Isolation Film Festival closed last month with more than 350 entries, Marysia’s Majatek was highly commended by festival organisers Lindy and Eddie Tamir, with the winners being The Close Call (in the 18 and over category) by Nick Harriott, Nick Spellicy and Ryan Stubbs, and Isolation Shorts (under 18) by Lexie Rough. 

“Isolating with mum has been a treasure,” said Jane. “I know that these years and our time together is so precious and fleeting.

“We stayed for nine weeks and time flew by in the little hut. We loved it and were very relaxed and happy.”

Marysia was born in Poland in 1924. After World War II broke out she was sent to the Lodz Ghetto with her parents. Her father died in the ghetto, while Marysia and her mother were sent to Auschwitz where her mother perished. Marysia survived several camps and was married after liberation, migrating to Australia with her husband in 1949. 

“It was important to include references to the Holocaust in the film,” said Jane, who shot to fame in 2010 when her YouTube video of her family singing and dancing outside the Auschwitz death camp to the music of I Will Survive, went viral.

“That video is still being screened at exhibitions in Europe and people still talk about it.”

Artist Jane Korman.

In Marysia’s Majatek, Marysia embarks on a project to sew words on a blanket celebrating her favourite song, Que Sera Sera, along with a heartfelt message to Jane.

“Mum has sewed all her life and I thought it would be a great project for her,” said Jane.

The message on the blanket reads: “Now that I am old, so very old, I ask my daughter to stay close to me. Stay a little longer, Sit a little nearer. These last moments are precious to me.”

Jane’s youngest son, Gil, helped with the filming, editing and production of the short film.

See all Isolation Film Festival entries at

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