“Through her darkest times my mother’s resilience grew out of her deep connections with people across generations.” Filmmaker Veronica Selver
Irmi Selver was born into a comfortable Jewish family in Germany, in 1906, and passed in 2004, in New York City, at the age of 97. Susan Fanshel and Veronica Selver tell Irmi’s story in their sweet, engaging, and fascinating documentary, IRMI.
Irmi lived in many places starting from Germany, to Holland, England, the United States, and France—learning their respective languages. She lost her first husband and two children in the Holocaust the suffering of which cannot be expressed in words. She went on to have what seems like many other lives and jobs. From country to country, the most consistent work Irmi had was that of certified massage practitioner. Yet, she found herself in other fields including secretarial work which included becoming a master typist.
In her mid-eighties, Irmi wrote a memoir which serves as both the starting point and the thread of the film, guiding us through the pivotal moments of her life. Excerpts from her memoir are read in voice-over by German actress, Hanna Schygulla.
As I followed Irmi’s life, the name and image of ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ came to mind. Upon the loss of her family in Germany she lived a relatively short period of time in unhappy, dark solitude. After that she chose to embrace her life and the many people in her world.
The film’s archival imagery, drawings, and enchanting home movies that appear in IRMI are good enough alone to recommend this documentary, but it is the powerful, unstoppable Irmi Selver who, by film’s end, lives in our hearts.
Watch the film via this link: