The chance discovery of an online article sends a Holocaust survivor on an unexpected trip to visit the orphanage where he found refuge after the war.
The chance discovery of an online article sends a Holocaust survivor on an unexpected trip to visit the orphanage where he was rescued to after the war.
Manny Drukier narrowly escaped the war by jumping from a “death train” at age 16, finding refuge at a home for orphans and displaced children. 71 years later, Manny—who lives in Toronto—is tracked down by a German researcher who has been searching for the surviving children for the past decade. She invites Manny to return to the former orphanage to share his story with the next generation of school students. Manny must now revisit the places of his darkest memories, to reconcile the past and educate the future.
“Finding Manny” is a story of optimism—one of the many unexpected discoveries that inspired me to tell this story.
It started by accident in the spring of 2017. I received a phone call from the wife of a friend looking for a favour. Cindy was travelling to Toronto to visit her father, Manny Drukier, who planned to open a 70-year-old box of photos from his time during WWII—photos the family had never seen before. Cindy asked if I could document the occasion, in case her dad shared stories they hadn’t heard either.
Within a few days of the initial filming, Manny Drukier was in touch with Holocaust researcher, Anna Andlauer, who invited him to visit Germany to give a presentation at his former orphanage, which has since become a grade school. It was at this point that my instincts kicked in, realizing that this was a documentary in the making.
Over the next few months, plans for a trip started coming together as different family members came on board. Soon, Manny’s wife, four children, and two grandchildren made arrangements to go, but one important person hadn’t signed on yet—Manny. Cindy, now one of the film’s producers, was feeling pessimistic, but also understood his reluctance. He was 89 and was being asked to go back to Germany, the scene of the horror.
Then Manny, true to his character, changed his mind.
The film gives viewers a fly-on-the-wall experience as Manny retraces his steps and relives painful moments from his past. Bearing witness to this dark chapter in history, we learn that he is a living symbol of hope and the ability to overcome—a survivor in the truest sense.
Festivals, Screenings, & Awards
ReFrame Film Festival – 2022
Chicago Jewish Film Festival – 2022
Albuquerque Film + Music Experience : Audience Choice Award
Moving Parts Film Festival : Best Documentary Feature
Indigo Moon Festival
Alexandria Film Festival
Crossing the Screen Film Festival
Garden State Film Festival
Miami Jewish Film Festival
WorldFest Houston International Film Festival: Platinum Remi Award
Joe Wang, Jan Jekielek
Kacey Oliver Cox
Francis “TQ” Hudon