Based on the diary written by 80-year-old Jessie Singer Sylvester between 1976 and1978, we enter an ordinary life full of undiscovered riches. As she struggles to make ends meet and reaches out to better herself, Jessie faces the growing violence in her neighborhood and the realization that she is finally and completely alone. The words of the Walt Whitman poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” run through the film as Jessie’s strength and resilience carry her to the next chapter of her life.
DIRECTOR BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE:
Ragnar Freidank (Director/Screenwriter) makes his feature directorial debut with Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn. As a stage director, he has worked in New York, Connecticut and Germany, and his credits include productions of The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, The Stronger, Oscar und die Dame in Rosa, Monsieur Ibrahim und die Blumen des Koran, Waiting for Godot, I Have Never Been Here, and Uncle Ethan Ripley.
He began his career as a performer, receiving his MFA in Acting from the Conservatory of Music and Theatre in Hamburg. He was awarded a scholarship to study the Michael Chekhov technique in New York, which led to a long association with The Actors Ensemble. In addition to his theatre credits in New York, Mr. Freidank has worked as an actor in Germany, as well as in Budapest, London and Stockholm.
Mr. Freidank also teaches at the Graduate Acting Programs of Columbia University and the New School. He has been invited to teach workshops in both academic and professional venues across the country and internationally, ranging from Sarah Lawrence College and Brandeis University to The Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center's National Theatre Institute in Connecticut and The Actor's Center in Rome.
He continues to work closely with MICHA, the Michael Chekhov Association, and has taught at numerous Teacher Training Workshops and International Conferences in the United States and Europe. The project marks his second collaboration with Joanna Merlin, cinematographer Edward Marritz and editor Bob Jorissen. They worked together on the acclaimed NEA-funded series, Master Classes in the Michael Chekhov Technique, on which he served as Co-Artistic Director with Ms. Merlin.