a film by Shari Berman
a film by Shari Berman
The Story
It's 2001. 12-year-old aspiring dancer - Sasha - is in a car accident. She loses her parents and her foot, thwarting her dreams. Nine months later, Sasha moves in with her elderly Holocaust survivor grandmother – Polina - who she barely knows and who harbors a terrible secret hidden away in a locked attic that Sasha is forbidden to enter. As Sasha struggles to understand the politics of the diverse, depressed town and study for her Bat Mitzvah she meets Alia, a 13-year-old who is constantly being harassed by local bullies who do not like her because she is Muslim. Alia’s father – Mr. Ashkani -  insists that Alia try to be friendly with the Caucasian boys to help them overcome their prejudices. He leads by example by becoming friends with their parents – or so he thinks. One night Alia, being chased by the bullies, knocks on Sasha’s door begging for help. As Alia and Sasha scramble to find a place in the house to hide, the attic door suddenly opens. The two girls rush in to the attic without thinking and then the attic relocks itself. The girls find themselves trapped with a 10-year-old ghost from the Holocaust who only speaks German. Meanwhile, the prejudices within the diverse town emerge. The townspeople decide to blame Alia's relatives for the girls' disappearance. In the end, everyone must learn to understand each other or face the consequences of hate.
A Note from the ​Director - Writer​​​​​
Pink Mist is a tween drama with a political undercurrent, filled with quirky characters – each with their own sense of humor.

My grandparents came to this country fleeing from prejudice communities in Europe and knowing that the United States was their best hope for a better life. Today, I don’t think an immigrant can really feel that way. 

And this depresses me on a deep level.

As a volunteer for a school district, I know that it is affecting our young people as well. Their view of the United States is not what my view was when I was their age.

In the 1950s racism was blatant, but by the 1970s it was lessened or at the very least looked down upon so much that it was mostly hidden from view. In the wake of 9/11, racism has slowly reared its head publicly again and I fear is on its way to becoming "acceptable" in the land of equality and freedom for all. 

I could sit and wallow in a large glass of wine watching Charlie Chaplin films like The Great Dictator and wondering where I might opt to flee to someday or I could direct my own off-beat comedy to express what I am seeing and how much I hope we can change.

I don’t think my pain is unique; I think many people are feeling disappointed with life in America and my hope is this film will bring hope to those looking for it and help fuel change for the better.

If we can learn to understand one another and accept that bad things happen to good people, perhaps we can move forward as a people. If nothing else, I hope this film will allow people to laugh a little…we need worldwide laughter right now…​​


The Characters
None of the characters in ​​Pink Mist are all bad or all good. They are human beings dealing with life as they need to.

As Polina says in the script when asked about her hypocritical manner of keeping a kosher home, but eating pork when at a restaurant:

“I do what works for me.”

It is a simple statement, but it speaks volumes about the complexity and balance of how one sees oneself. She is not just a Jew living in America. She is an American who is Jewish.
Polina represents the human spirit that has seen it all and survived. She explains in her recipe for chicken soup:

“Chicken soup is nice because it is very simple and keeping things simple can be   comforting even in the darkest of times. Chicken is good for you. It provides protein needed to grow and keep our brains
working to their full potential. Chickens are also a reminder to not be stupid.
Chickens are very stupid and so they end up in soup.
Don’t be like the chicken.”
Polina is the voice of pragmatism and understands that each person must fall down and get up if they are to become a full human being.

When Sasha hops outside (without her prosthetic) to protect Alia from the boys who are chasing her and ends up falling down on the pavement, Polina does not applaud her brave actions or fret over Sasha’s potential injury, she simply says,

“You shouldn’t go outside without your foot.”

The girls in the film represent the voices of the innocent people who are all too often victims of circumstances beyond their control.

Sasha, is the passive victim who must learn to make her own decisions rather than resign herself to her fate.

Alia, is the defiant victim who must learn which battles to fight and which to walk away from.

Hannah, is the fearful victim who hides from the world.


 The Vision​

Mixing the world of the past with the current world visually will enhance the drama of this film. I intend to use projected film within the attic to imitate film reels of the1940s to show parts of the story –not just the long forgotten past, but recent events in the community.
The town will be shown as it feels – stark and gray with static shots that feel like snapshots in an old library book.

The attic will be alive with life and the off-kilter feel of emotions with the use of Dutch angles and fish eye lenses.

Using humor, honesty and creative visuals, I hope to create a dialogue about humanity at its best and its worst so that we may all evolve as a community.

The Creative Team

Shari Berman
Director - Producer - Writer - Editor

Shari Berman is an award winning filmmaker, one of Film Fatales’ New York Chapter Leaders, and is a member of The FilmmakeHers. She focuses on making innovative films with strong female characters. Her two features and breakout short have all garnered awards and accolades. ​

Shari produced, directed, wrote and edited her first feature film – My Life as Abraham Lincoln  – receiving rave reviews from The New York Times, Variety, Film Journal International and others. (http://shariberman.com/reviews/)

She is the director and editor of Sugar! which stars Tony Award Winner Alice Ripley and SAG Award Winner Robert Clohessy. At the end of its festival run, Sugar!​ won over a dozen awards along the way including awards for best director and best feature.

Shari’s breakout short – the 3-D Expressionist film The Trial of Jack -  played at over 30 film festivals worldwide.  

Shari was also a producer on the feature film The Unspeakable Act, which premiered at Rotterdam and played at BAM.

Shari grew up in the Bronx and currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dog. In addition to her volunteer work for women filmmaker groups, Shari volunteers at East Rockaway Jr/Sr high school as a choreographer for their school musicals.

Reel: www.shariberman.com/reel/

Chris Benker
Director of Photography

After being selected to participate in the New York State Summer School for the Media Arts as a teenager, Chris decided to pursue a career in film.

He studied at SUNY Buffalo under Paul Sharits and Brian Henderson where he earned a BA in Media Studies.

He relocated to New York City and sharpened his craft working as a cinematographer on a vast array of indie films.

His feature work includes the award winning film, My Life as Abraham Lincoln, Monkeys and Robots, Satan's Whip and The Yakuza and the Mermaid.

Review Quotes:

   “…Chris Benker adds elegant layers.”
— The New York Times
  “Cinematographer Chris Benker deserves extra credit.” 
— Film Journal International
  “Lenser Chris Benker impressively controls light, color and composition.”
— Variety

  “…the true star of the film (Yakuza & The Mermaid) is Benker’s cinematography.”
 — Film Journal International


If you have interest in helping to get this project made,
please do not hesitate to send us a message.

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To email directly:
shari at beindependentproductions.com
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