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The Short Escape (Short Film Screenplay)


Based on true events set in 2021 and 1945, an elderly former secretary of a Nazi death camp evades responsibility for her actions one last time.

Writer Biography - Paweł Grajnert

Paweł Grajnert is an award-wining writer and filmmaker working in Poland and the US. His films have premiered at the Venice Film Festival, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Gdynia National Film Festival in Poland. He holds an MFA in film directing from Columbia University New York where he was awarded the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Foundation prize for excellence in science-focused screenwriting. His writing has also been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Competition; the Polish International Film Festival; and the State of Illinois from whom he received the honor of a Literary Arts Award. A film he directed won the best experimental film award at the Kinomorphia Film Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria. Founder of the Seattle Poetry Slam, his poems, short dramatic works, stories, and photography have been published and exhibited internationally.

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Our Review

World War 1 and 2 have been a wellspring of inspiration for some of cinema’s most compelling moments. “The Short Escape” stands as a formidable subject, making it a worthy script for a short film. The script’s climax swiftly evokes a strong sense of unease, portraying the harsh reality of how often we yield to wrongdoing, even when certain of its presence. It sheds light on our tendency to move forward, assuming that the past will be forgotten. The emotional scars etched into the protagonist’s mind are powerfully portrayed, evident in her ability to recall names from the past while forgetting her own.

Writer Statement

The film is very personal to me as my grandfather died from torture by German Nazis at the Fort VII facility in Poznań, Poland.

“The Short Escape” is to be shot in the historic city of Gdańsk, Poland, during the summer of 2024. Gdańsk, with its rich history and vibrant atmosphere, provides the perfect backdrop for a story that intertwines past and present, offering a visual and emotional journey for the audience. An added element of truthfulness of the film is that some of the events portrayed in the short occurred in and around Gdańsk under the occupation of the Third Reich.

Utilizing local actors and film crew is a strategic choice, aiming to not only support the local film industry but also ensure authenticity and realism in every frame of the film. This approach also aligns with our budget-conscious planning, ensuring that the funds are allocated efficiently without compromising the quality of production.

The film will be shot MOS, on HD, capturing the raw visuals and emotions without direct sound recording. The narrative will be complemented by a post-production German language dubbing, bringing an additional layer of authenticity and connection to the story, given its historical context and setting.

Having previously created a short period film in Gdańsk in 2011, our team brings a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the locale’s historical significance. This previous project has equipped us with invaluable insights and a solid foundation, ensuring that “The Short Escape” is crafted with precision, respect, and a keen eye for detail.

The narrative of our film is inspired by the real-life events surrounding Irmgard Furchner, a 96-year-old former secretary for the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, who was convicted of accessory to murder in 2022. The screenplay intricately weaves this historical backdrop with a fictional exploration of accountability, memory, and the haunting echoes of the past.

The story follows an old German woman haunted and guided by the voices of the past, as she flees through a Berlin night in 2021, trying to evade responsibility for her actions as an accomplice to mass murder. As she recites the names of victims from the Stutthof camp she remembers well, the audience is drawn into a visceral experience, questioning the boundaries of guilt, remorse, and the human capacity for redemption - or not. At the end, the woman is revealed for what people like her always are - a cowardly liar.

The funding will be instrumental in bringing this vision to life, ensuring that every aspect of production—from casting to location scouting, from cinematography to post-production—resonates with the thematic gravity and historical accuracy that the story demands.

“The Short Escape" is a journey into the depths of human conscience, a visual poem that seeks to bridge the past and the present, urging the audience to reflect, remember, and empathize. Your support and funding would be pivotal in ensuring that this important story finds its way to the screen, contributing to the global discourse on memory, history, and humanity.

Thank you for considering our proposal. We are eager to bring this poignant narrative to life and contribute a meaningful piece of cinema to the world’s rich tapestry of storytelling.


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