“What does it mean being human?
Is it possible to be humane at the risk of self-sacrifice?
Can we learn from our mistakes? Can we learn from the mistakes of others?”
Samuel Bak, Mass Art Commencement Ceremony, 2015
ABOUT THIS MOVIE
Sam Bak, The Art of Life, is a Legacy Film and Educational Outreach Project whose goal is to distill Sam’s timeless art, his dramatic life story and epochal wisdom and present it to a worldwide audience and to future generations.
Poised at the dawn of a new millennium, this documentary exploration of art, history, and the human condition asks us, as Sam Bak does so powerfully with his paintings, to engage in the conversation of what it is to be human in any epoch or historical time.
Through a series of comprehensive interviews with the artist and his closest collaborators, dynamic montages of Bak's drawings and paintings, private photographs, rare archival footage, and original music, this epochal documentary conveys the indomitable determination, irrepressible humor, and exceptional creativity of a truly inspirational Artist, and reveals, through Sam's personal and artistic journey, the journey of us all.
ABOUT THE LEGACY EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH
We are endeavoring to distribute the movie to National and International Educational Organizations, Museums, School Boards, Universities, Libraries, and Community Centers around the world.
We continue our efforts to identify and secure broadcast agreements with Private and Public Broadcasters worldwide.
To ensure the widest reach, the short and long versions of the film, will be translated and dubbed into multiple languages. Sponsorships are now available for individual language translation and dubbing.
Theatre releases are planned for Boston, Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles. Presenting Sponsors are welcome.
Film festival participations are being planned. Our goal is to submit the film to major documentary and film festivals around the world. Individual film festival sponsorships are now available
ABOUT SAM BAK
"How to account for Samuel Bak altogether? His vision is a teeming cornucopia, his imagination is a torrent,
his tireless productivity is a prodigy beyond the merely Human"
Cynthia Ozick, 2014
Born in Polish Vilna, now Vilnius (the capital of Lithuania), in the history-changing year of 1933, Sam Bak,
was a child prodigy who began drawing and painting at the tender age of three. His idyllic childhood was soon shattered by the nightmare of WWII and the horrors of the Holocaust. Ironically, Sam had his first art exhibition, in the direst of circumstances, in the Vilna Ghetto, age nine.
While Sam and his mother Mitzia survived - ten miracles indeed were needed - his beloved father Jonas and all four grandparents, perished in the Shoa’.
At the end of WWII, Sam and his mother fled to the Landsberg Displaced Persons Camp, where he devoted himself to studying art and continued to paint prodigiously, even becoming a "little bit of a celebrity" when an American news crew filmed Sam painting at age fourteen.
In 1948, mother and son immigrated to the newly-established state of Israel, where Sam attended Jerusalem's Bezalel Art School. A successful foray as a Theatre designer in Israel and a grant from the American-Israeli Cultural Foundation brought Sam to Paris in 1956, where he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
In 1959 he moved to Rome, where his first exhibition of abstract paintings yielded critical acclaim and garnered him great success and some measure of independence.
In 1961, Sam's works were exhibited at the "Carnegie International" in Pittsburgh. Solo exhibitions followed in 1963 at the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Museums.
At this time in his career, Sam's art underwent a dramatic transformation. This shift, from abstract forms to more classically inspired, figurative and narrative forms of expression, in time coalesced into a uniquely distinctive style, a style for which Bak has become known the world over. In time, Sam's paintings became the vehicles, with which he could reflect upon the human condition, point to the cyclical nature of history and of violence, and confront us with the contradictions inherent in our own, human nature.
In 1993, Sam and his wife Josee moved permanently to the US, settling in Weston, Massachusetts where he continues to work and thrive.
Today, ever the visionary yet always keenly aware of the past, Sam has his uncompromising gaze firmly fixed on the future, as he works assiduously with Art institutions, Museums, Universities, and with pedagogical and genocide prevention organizations around the world to ensure that the Promethean torch of artistic mastery, historical knowledge, and perennial wisdom can be handed off to future generations.
ABOUT LAURA D'APRILE
"When I was young the world was young.
My generation and I thought the future was ours.
An epochal mistake that, for we are living in changing times.
We will not inhabit the future. We cannot even imagine it yet , for we know the history of the last 2000 years infinitely better than we can ever know the next 2000. The best our generation can do is to distill the wisdom of the stalwarts of our times and relay it to our children and grandchildren. They're going to need all the help they can get if humanity is to thrive in the next 2000 years, not just survive."
Laura D'Aprile, 2006
Laura D'Aprile is a respected journalist, writer, and television producer who has covered the arts, politics, and culture on the national and international scenes for twenty years. She has written and produced television features on contemporary icons such as, Pablo Picasso, Umberto Eco, and Bernardo Bertolucci.
A seasoned documentary and television producer, Laura brings a lifetime of experience in film and television production in front of the camera and in the production suite.
Laura is currently producing and directing Sam Bak the Art of Life, a film that has inspired her to create the Legacy Films Series, an ambitious project she envisions as timely and necessary messages in a bottle, meant to distill and bequeath the knowledge and the wisdom of the stalwarts of our time to future generations.
"Your energy lights up the room. Your personality is electric and the fact that you are making this your mission is incredible. I went to Vilna in search of answers and to learn more about my heritage and for you to bring it to life for the world is a great mission."
- Wendy Becker -
"Brava. Just watched your superb film. It keeps getting better and better. You have crafted a duet and trio. Duet of Sam's words and wisdom with a rich palette of images beautifully selected and a trio by your elegant choice of music."
- Bernie Pucker -
"I just returned from the Pucker Gallery where I saw your film-in-progress. Brava! There were so many inspiring aspects: of course Sam's stunning art, from different periods in his career; what he says about the work in particular, and his views on "repairing a broken world; the artist at work in his studio, and mysteriously standing in front of that long, curving wall. The non-linear order you chose is most successful."
- Carol Dine -
Poet, Essayist, Educator
"Laura is a torrent of creative energy. She is the most engaging conversationalist I have ever experienced, and she can translate that skill flawlessly to the art of visual storytelling."
- Vincent Cugliari -
Holocaust Museum Houston - Grand Reopening and Sam Bak Gallery Debut
The Museum debuted the nation's largest gallery of artwork by the Holocaust survivor and painter Samuel Bak, with more than 130 works in exhibition rotation.
Witness: The Art of Samuel Bak at University of Nebraska at Omaha
Renowned artist and Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak visited the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in September 2019.
In tandem, a showing of 70 of his creations.
Unveiling of Sam Bak's iconic painting "The Ghetto" at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
At the unveiling, Rimantas Stankevicius, Sam's “brother” and guardian angel from Vilnius, joined Sam, his wife Josee, Bernie, and Sue Pucker of Boston's Pucker Gallery.
IN THE WORKS
The Samuel Bak Museum and Learning Center at the University of Nebraska Omaha
The future Samuel Bak Museum and Learning Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha will be the only major collection of work by renowned artist and Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak housed on a university campus in the world. As a vibrant hub for inquiry, guests of the Bak Museum will engage in meaningful discussions about the Holocaust, visual testimony and memory, human rights, art, and social justice, among other subjects.
The newly appointed Chancellor Li has headed efforts to expand the vision of the museum from a transformed Kaiser Hall to a freestanding museum building in the central campus. Alongside Professor and Dean David Boocker, the newly appointed director of the Samul Bak Museum and Learning Center, the project will encapsulate 70 years of Samuel Bak’s life and work.
View Past and Current Bak Exhibitions - Virtual Tours - Purchasing Info - & More
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