Vera Wagman’s autobiographical PETIT RAT shares a story that highlights the poignant and profound cross-section of family, history and the arts

“A brilliant film…a very personal story, and yet it finds its universality in the telling of it. PETIT RAT hits on so many different themes all at the same time, and in what is a relatively short piece of work, it’s kind of a seamless magical little piece of movie making.” – Jason Alexander

The documentary short has been a hit on the festival circuit and has qualified to be considered for a 2022 Academy Award.

Inside the Baryshnikov Arts Center in NYC, Fernande, an 81-year-old woman and her two daughters, Deborah and Vera, rehearse a dance together. There is a long history between the three of them, but the story begins with Fernande who was born in Paris and was training to be an apprentice with the Paris Opera Ballet. When the Nazis invaded, she and her parents escaped to the South of France. Post-war, Fernande returned to Paris and was told that she was too old to become a dancer. She vowed that if she had daughters, they would become dancers. 80 years later, she and her daughters confront the impact of that pledge. Petit Rat is a love story between a mother and her daughters, bonded by the intergenerational trauma of war and uplifted by the resilience of familial love.

PETIT RAT won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Miami Jewish Film Festival and is an Official Selection of Filmfestival Kitzbuehel, Woods Hole Film Festival, Vail Film Festival, Cinequest Film Festival, FIDBA International Documentary Film Festival, Near Nazareth Film Festival, and the 75th International Cinema Festival of Salerno

Director/Producer/Choreographer: Vera Wagman has directed short films including Interlude (Hypnotic Films, Sundance Channel), High Noon (PBS’ “Are We On”) and Jeopardy, a documentary short about an at-risk youth program in Los Angeles where the students train as boxers and dancers. Vera started her career as a dancer with company credits including David Storey/NY and Pennsylvania Dance Theatre where she worked with such innovative choreographers as Ohad Naharin, Kathryn Posin and Nina Weiner. She has produced arts events for Santa Monica’s Cultural Affairs Division and most recently, choreographed MARCH, an original play produced by the LGBT Center and Playwright’s Arena in Los Angeles.

Producer Russell Rothberg is an Executive Producer for the upcoming series, The Offer, on Paramount+ and was Co-Executive Producer on Foundation, an upcoming series for Apple TV. He directed and produced his first comedy short, Happy Happy Bang Bang, co-produced by Vera Wagman, which screened at the 2018 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. As Executive VP, Drama Development at Universal Television, Russell developed several series including Bates Motel, The Path, Chicago Fire, Shades of Blue and Emerald City. He also served as VP of Current Programming for Fox Broadcasting Company where he oversaw 24, House, Bones, American Dad and The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Russell started his career as an actor-writer-director with an original play, Life After Death, at the Intar Theatre in NYC.

Regina Mahmoud

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