I will be spending my fellowship year writing the screenplay for and developing my new feature, Ursa Major. This project is based on the life and work of the Jewish Romanian writer Mihail Sebastian (the literary pseudonym of Iosif Hechter), who witnessed the rise of fascism and antisemitism in Romania and documented it in his Journal 1935–1944. The work that made Sebastian famous, the play Star Without a Name, initially seemed doomed to never be produced because Romania’s harsh racial laws forbade Jews from publishing. My project blends together the author’s biography and his play, imagining that characters and scenes from Star Without a Name were inspired by events and people in Sebastian’s life.
The photograph of Ioana Uricaru is © Annette Hornischer and courtesy of the American Academy in Berlin.