Baby Photo

Institute History

  • 1997 January Screenwriters Lab


Andrei Codrescu has a story to tell, filtered, of course, through his poet’s view of the world. On the surface it is a common story: Eva is his doting and opinionated mother who lives in a Florida retirement village. He is a successful writer and neglectful son, too busy to visit. But the occasion of a rare trip to see her prompts a remembrance of an extraordinary past – a mother and son’s tragi-comic tale of love and loss, and how they became who they are.

In the closing days of World War II, Eva Perlmutter had a baby boy, Andrei, in the Transylvanian town of Sibiu. Her husband, a mysterious figure, soon vanished and the eighteen-year-old Eva was left on her own to raise her child and run a photo studio, Baby Photo. As she recorded the weddings, the ID cards, and the school portraits of Sibiu, a succession of eccentric caretakers entered Andrei’s life. In this land of legends, Gypsies, and convoluted history, his childhood was filled with characters and circumstances fantastic and absurd; larger-than-life scenes that fed Andrei’s nimble and active imagination.

In spite of the Cold War Communist regime, Andrei became both a free spirit and a poet. Poetry was the verbal sword that he wielded, first to reclaim his mother from an overbearing stepfather, and then to gain growing fame with social commentary-filled verse. Brushes with Party censors became more and more frequent, and Eva’s son soon went from child prodigy to enemy of the state. Before his nineteenth birthday Andrei was expelled from university and his poetry banned. Eva, who had escaped the Holocaust, weathered two husbands and ran her own business, now faced her biggest challenge – getting her son out of Romania.

Juxtaposing past and present, fact and memory, fantasy and documentary, BABY PHOTO explores the unique bond between mother and son, and perceptions of home and family, in ways that are humorous, provocative and poignant.


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