Get to know D.C. with our daily newsletter
We dive deep on the day’s biggest story and share links to everything you need to know.
Marian Marzynski’s remarkable 2004 documentary begins with his American-born daughter shreiking joyfully on a playground and goes mostly forward from there. Indeed, by the time the protagonist of Anya (In and Out of Focus) is fully characterized, nearly 30 years have passed. But there’s some history, too, most notably Marzynski’s own childhood: Smuggled out of the Warsaw ghetto as a baby, he survived in a Catholic orphanage and didn’t recognize his mother when the war was over. It’s impossible to tell exactly how much of Anya’s life was filmed over the decades, but all four members of the family, including mother Grazyna and Polish-born older brother Bartek, were among the nine camera operators. In any case, Marzynski doesn’t seem to have lacked anything he needed to illustrate his daughter’s development from young girl dancing to “Ça Plane Pour Moi” to indifferent Illinois high-school and college student to, finally, schoolteacher, wife, and mother. The presence of that Belgian punk novelty tune is emblematic: Anya’s is an American story with a lot of different accents. She never masters Hebrew, but she speaks some Polish, and her life takes her to Israel, France, Poland, and Britain, where she marries a man who also has a complicated identity. She’s also shown, understandably, rejecting the camera at certain moments. Perhaps there should be more of Grazyna, whose onscreen self reveals little more than racial anxiety. But as a cinematic father–daughter portrait, Anya is as complete as possible. At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, at the D.C. Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th St. NW. $8.50. (202) 884-0060. (Mark Jenkins)