About This Documentary Film

Nelly was 10 years old when she and her mother went into hiding from Nazis occupying Lwów, Poland, in 1943. For nearly two years, they hid in a small, bare room. Intolerable boredom and ever-present fear were the catalysts to Nelly's silent play and art.  

VIDEO: Official trailer for "Imagining A Better World"

Armed with only a set of watercolors and small pieces of paper, she painted life as it would be in a normal childhood, filled with beauty, colors, life, space, family and mostly freedom. But in Nelly's case, these were merely fantasies.

Fortunately, Nelly Toll and her paintings survived the War and she went on to become an inspirational teacher, counselor and art therapist in America. In this exclusive one-hour documentary, the viewer will travel with Nelly through her two worlds, as she leaps into her bright future, escaping the atrocities that she had to live through. Vérité cinematography and rare archival footage will be combined with visually stunning 2D & 3D animation of Nelly's watercolor paintings. Virtual reality recreations will enhance the telling of Nelly's time in hiding as well as her impressive career after the War. 

Nelly’s award-winning memoir, Behind the Secret Window, will guide our storytelling, along with the nearly sixty watercolors of her imaginary world. Her wonderful paintings have been displayed around the world. Eight are in the permanent collection of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Israel. Twelve others were auctioned to private collectors by Sotheby's in New York. "They are part of history," says Marsha Malinowski of Sotheby's. "They tell an extraordinary story, how this child survived all of this."

IMAGINING A BETTER WORLD, The Nelly Toll Story, is a testament to the human will to survive, the love between a mother and her child and the immense saving power of the imagination. Through art, a better world can emerge.