Jewish Family Services and University of Richmond Hillel released “Draw Back the Curtain,” a feature-length documentary film detailing the Richmond community’s role in resettling 800 refugees from the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s. The film premiered at the Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of Richmond on Nov. 10 to an audience of more than 500 people.

“The audience included people of all ages and backgrounds and the response was overwhelmingly positive,” said Shir Bodner, “Draw Back the Curtain” director, a business analyst with Jewish Family Services and UR alumna. “We are excited to continue showing the film and allowing more people to interact with this project.”

“Draw Back the Curtain” is the culmination of three years of student-driven research and interviews with immigrants and resettlement volunteers. The larger project, which includes multiple museum exhibitions and an upcoming digital archive, has tallied more than 8,500 volunteer hours and is supported in part by a grant from the Genesis Fund of the Richmond Jewish Foundation, corporate and individual donors in the Richmond community.

On Nov. 17, Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives will open an exhibition of Soviet artifacts, news articles and photographs from the resettled community that depict life in the former Soviet Union, the struggle and their resilience to achieve the American dream. The exhibit will remain open through the winter of 2015.

The trailer, more information, and “Draw Back the Curtain” in the news will remain available on the website Digital exhibits to be hosted on the site are in the works.

The next film screening will take place at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center on May 21, 2015. PBS also is slated to broadcast the documentary next summer.

“We are looking forward to opportunities to present the project throughout the community such as in schools and with businesses,” Bodner said.


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