Chasing Portraits

Dir. Elizabeth Rynecki | 78 min
Documentary USA 2018

Moshe Rynecki (1881-1943) was a prolific Warsaw-based artist who painted scenes of the Polish-Jewish community until he was murdered at Majdanek. After the Holocaust, Moshe’s wife was only able to recover a small fraction of his work, but unbeknownst to the family, many other pieces survived.

For more than a decade his great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Rynecki, has searched for the missing art, with remarkable and unexpected success. Spanning three generations, Chasing Portraits is a deeply moving narrative of the richness of one man’s art, the devastation of war, and one woman’s unexpected path to healing.

October 26 and 27 screenings followed by a conversation with filmmaker Elizabeth Rynecki. The 6:00 PM screening on October 26 will be moderated by writer Deborah Kalb. The 6:30 PM screening on October 27 will be moderated by Toby Kaminsky of 3GDC.

Elizabeth Rynecki’s book Chasing Portraits will be available for purchase and signed by the author following screenings of the film.


Friday, October 251:00 PM Matinee

Saturday, October 266:00 PM Q&A

8:20 PM Q&A

Sunday, October 271:00 PM Matinee

6:30 PM Q&A

Tuesday, October 297:00 PM

Thursday, October 317:00 PM


Elizabeth Rynecki is the great-granddaughter of Polish-Jewish artist, Moshe Rynecki (1881-1943). She grew up with her great-grandfather’s paintings prominently displayed on the walls of her family home and understood from an early age that the art connected her to a legacy from “the old country”: Poland. In 1999, Elizabeth designed the original Moshe Rynecki: Portrait of a Life in Art website.

Deborah Kalb is a writer and editor. She spent about two decades working as a journalist in Washington, D.C., for news organizations including Gannett News Service, Congressional Quarterly, U.S. News & World Report, and The Hill. Her book blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, features hundreds of interviews she has conducted with a wide variety of authors. She is the author or co-author of several books for adults and children.

Toby Kaminsky lives in Bethesda, MD with her husband, Glenn Kaminsky, daughter, Bella, and dog, Winnie.  She is a trademark attorney for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, originally hailing from Shaker Heights, OH and receiving degrees from the University of Michigan and Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.  She enjoys reading, playing piano and flute, exercising and traveling. Additionally, she is part of the organizing committee for 3GDC, which is a local group of grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and she has been trained to share her family’s Holocaust story to middle school and high school students.


  • Chasing Portraits is about a search. Yet the most affecting parts of this documentary come with the realization that some things may never be found.Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times
  • Part Woman in Gold and part family home movie, with shades of Everything Is Illuminated and Antiques Roadshow, the documentary Chasing Portraits is both funnier and deeper than even its compelling premise suggests.Shana Nys Dambrot, LA Weekly

Genres and Topics


This event finished on November 1, 2019.