Friday, July 10, 2009
In compiling research for our film project, An Unbroken Chain: The Movie, we discovered that Henry was selected by Steven Speilberg's University of South California Shoah Foundation as one of the top 5 testimonies of over 55,000 for an online exhibit that is still available today.
Surviving Auschwitz: 5 personal journeys follows the lives of 5 Holocaust survivors before, during and after their deportation to Auschwitz, and other concentration camps. It also traces their experiences to five different continents after their liberation. In addition to first person video testimonies, the exhibit includes an interactive map glossary, photographs, and biological profiles that provide further context and understanding. Surviving Auschwitz is designed for students grades 8 through 12, as well as the general public.
There is also a teacher's guide available with the exhibit.
Many people have suggested that we contact Speilberg himself about Henry's amazing story, and we plan to do just that.
Monday, July 6, 2009
This holiday weekend I caught up on some research, albeit heavy research in preparation for our upcoming film project, An Unbroken Chain: The Movie. I started by reviewing 4 hours of footage from recent years of the Phoenix Yom Ha’Shaoh commemorations for the 25th Anniversary Video that we are filming for their organization in October. President Judy Gittel said it best in 2007, “the Holocaust was a premeditated mass murder, the most unique atrocity of all” and “this memory must be protected not just for Jews, but for the sake of all people..”
After that I watched Symbol by Professor Gregory S. Martin of St. Cloud State University (Symbol film poster pictured, courtesy of Gregory S. Martin.) It’s an interesting documentary on how St. Cloud Cathedral in Minnesota actually had swastikas in their outer construction since before the Holocaust, as the symbol was around for centuries. Eventually this church raised the money to remove the swastikas. My partner, Dr. Henry Oertelt was quoted in the piece, and talked about his experience with the swastika.
Next up was Constantine’s Sword. This powerful documentary explored how religions have been killing people to keep power and control in the name of God and among other things, how an Evangelist mega church of about 14,000 congregants was doing some hard core recruiting at the nearby American Air Force campus. In fact, they put out 3 flyers at day in the mess hall to help promote Passion of the Christ when the film came out. It got so bad for one Jewish student that ultimately his father ended up suing the academy. He said he felt awful, like it was the end of the film Old Yeller, that he was, by suing the institution that he and his three sons had been loyal to for decades, was like shooting his own dog.
Finally, it was time to lighten up. I decided to switch gears and watched Steal this Film II, a fantastic documentary on the evolution of film distribution over the Internet. They compared the invention of the printing press to the backlash from torrenting and community sharing and collaboration on the Internet. In the past weeks I have picked up a lot of information on the new methods and philosophies of distribution and we are very excited to apply much of this to our business plan for An Unbroken Chain. The key to this film was that online pirating is happening now, and there is no way to stop it so filmmakers and the industry might as well just figure out how they want to play in this new game.
Our last movie of the weekend was Religulous by Bill Maher. Bill is fearless and goes after everyone: Orthodox Jews, Mormons, Catholics, and Muslims. We thought the man must still be getting death threats after the footage he included. Still, he made his points, and ultimately concluded that the non religious 16% of the U.S. must have their voice heard politically or the religious groups will continue to lead us down a path of destruction, and that all religions are based on fairy tales and power trips. He says doubt is the only honest philosophy and way to look at the afterlife. I highly recommend this one as a fantastic way to step back and take a long hard look at your own religion.