Red Shirley, a 99-year-old woman formally known as Shulamit Rabinowitz, is the star of this short film co-directed by her cousin, none other than former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed.\
Rabinowitz lived through the devastation of the First World War, and fled Poland for Canada during the Second. At ninteen, she immigrated illegally to the U.S., where she spent 47 years toiling at a New York textile factory. She tracked down her long-lost sisters in Palestine, engaged in union struggles and took part in the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.
Enhanced by its dark soundtrack — courtesy of Mr. Reed, naturally — and judicious use of freeze frames, this intimate cousin-to-cousin encounter is a fascinating distillation of an individual’s unique experience over a vast expanse of 20th century history.