Saturday, February 21, 2009

“A Reason To Remember” at the Scottsdale JCC through March 16

Friday I joined a group of women to help put up a new traveling exhibit, called “A Reason to Remember” sponsored by the Phoenix Holocaust Survivors Group and the Bureau of Jewish Education, at the Ina Levine Campus of the Jewish Community Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Pictured are Elaine, the Director of the Bureau of Jewish Education, Annette, Elaine, Evelyn and Cindy.) Elaine, Cindy, Annette and myself will be docents for this exhibit.

"A Reason to Remember" was shared from Hatikvah Holocaust Education Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. It’s a microcosm of the Holocaust and brings it to life in a personal and intimate way because it is focused on real people who experienced life under Nazi occupation. It tells the personal story of the five Jewish families who lived in the small village of Roth. The demise of this tiny community is chronicled in detail, using primary source materials such as photographs, documents and artifacts, as well as eyewitness testimonies. It also imparts a great deal of general information about the history of the Holocaust. Visitors are also challenged by what they see in this exhibit to think critically about the choices they make when they are called upon to respond to prejudice or any other type of injustice. It is appropriate for grades 8 and up.

Herb Roth, one of the survivors of this town, Roth, Germany, will be a docent during select dates including the upcoming March 2 Holocaust Education Day at the JCC.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Two if By Sea: Phoenix Business Journal Cover Story on Us

Today we are in "Two if by Sea" a cover story in the Phoenix Business Journal. Thanks Chris!

Friday, February 20, 2009
Unlikely journeys lead to creation of film businesses
Phoenix Business Journal - by Chris Casacchia

Stephanie Houser Silverman embarked on a new career in the movie business during a shipwreck odyssey in the British West Indies.

Carole Bartholomeaux’s job with a New York Times best-selling author led her to a treasure hunter in Australia.

Eventually, both established film production companies in Phoenix.

The two businesswomen took circuitous routes –– filled with tales of shipwrecks and the open seas –– to the film industry. One day, their own stories may end up on the big screen. But for now, they’re working on movies about other people, and they just struck their first major deals.

Silverman’s company, launch flix, finalized an option agreement with Minneapolis-based Lerner Publishing Group for a feature film based on the story of Holocaust survivor Henry Oertelt, author of the award-winning book “An Unbroken Chain: My Journey Through the Nazi Holocaust.”

Oertelt, a Berlin native, was 12 years old when Adolf Hitler came to power. He witnessed the devastation of Kristallnacht, “the Night of Broken Glass,” on Nov. 9, 1938, with his mother and brother. Many consider that night the start of the Holocaust, as Hitler’s troops burned and demolished Jewish businesses, homes and temples and forced the first 30,000 Jews into concentration camps.

Silverman stumbled upon the opportunity to tell Oertelt’s story onscreen during a serious travel predicament.

In September 2006, she sold her firm, launch PR, to Allison & Partners. On March 1, 2007, she embarked on a sailing trip around the world with her husband, Hayden, an avid sailor, and their golden retriever, Celis (named after a Texas beer).

But four months into their voyage, their 42-foot Fountaine Pajot Venezia catamaran, aptly named Plan B, was hit by lightning, wiping out the electrical system, radar, VHF radio and lighting.

Stranded on the Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos for three months, Silverman began chronicling their mishap. She rented numerous movies from a store miles inland and read books about screenplays and the film industry in her spare time. The pair’s only real communication with family was via the Internet.

After her husband fixed the boat (the auto pilot had to be shipped back to its manufacturer in France), they continued their journey, traveling to many island nations, including St. Thomas. There, she had a chance encounter with Oertelt’s granddaughter, who told Silverman her grand­father was looking for a screenwriter.

In June 2008, the couple sold their boat in the Virgin Islands. Two months later, Silverman returned to the U.S. and opened the downtown Phoenix office of launch flix.

Oertelt’s screen adaptation is in development. The company is scouting locations in Europe and looking for talent and investors.

“My main concern is putting out a great film on the lowest budget possible,” said Silverman, who also is working on a screenplay dubbed “Plan B.”

Independent movie budgets can range from $2 million to $12 million.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

AP Story: Minnesotan's Holocaust story could become a movie

Feb. 9, 2009 ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- The life story of a Twin Cities man who survived the Holocaust and wrote a book about his experiences may be going to the big screen.

Eighty-eight-year-old Henry Oertelt wrote about his life as a young Jew who survived five concentration camps in "An Unbroken Chain: My Journey Through the Nazi Holocaust."

The film rights to that book were recently sold to an independent film company that has plans to turn it into a feature film. Stephanie Silverman Houser, of launch flix, says she plans to film in Europe and hopes to attract a major name to play Oertelt.
She says the movie will tell his story from his teenage to his young adult years. It will be aimed at teenagers as an adventure story.

Oertelt says he has met with Silverman Houser and has no doubts that she will be true to his story.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

After a larger story in the St. Cloud Times appeared Feb. 8 "Holocaust survivor’s life bound for big screen," an Associated Press writer submitted this shorter version (above) which was picked up regionally by all major MN TV, Radio and Newspaper outlets as well as the NY Daily News, LA Examiner, MSNBC, Hollywood Hello, and Japan FM.