Monday, December 21, 2009

Seasons Greetings from Henry Oertelt!

I am very grateful for all the tremendous support we are receiving, nationally and internationally for our film project. We are more determined than ever to make our story into a feature film and we look forward to seeing you all out at the theater, soon! Happy new year!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Henry’s turning 89 next month: Help Make this his Best Birthday Ever!

Our friend and living treasure, Holocaust Survivor and author, Henry Oertelt, is turning 89 years old on January 13.

We are adapting his book, An Unbroken Chain, My Journey through the Nazi Holocaust, into a feature film. In his book, Henry examines the eighteen separate but crucial links in the chain of events that kept him alive and ultimately led to his freedom.  From the Nazi foreman who helped him escape the Gestapo, to the SS General who gave him the medical treatment he needed, Henry’s powerful voice retraces the encounters and situations that changed his destiny.  Although often sad and shocking, the remarkable events of Henry’s life, as well as his amazing strength and hope, will touch the lives and hearts of movie goers everywhere.

Henry Oertelt was liberated by General Patton’s Third Army during the Flossenburg Death March in April, 1943.  He arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1949 and has spent 40 years speaking about his experiences and the importance of tolerance, political involvement, and confronting hatred.  Henry has been married to his sweetheart, Inge, for 63 years and has two children, 4 grandchildren, and one great grandson. 

Oertelt is past chairman of the Jewish Community Relations Council’s (JCRC) and Holocaust education committee and recipient of JCRC’s “Volunteer of the Year” award, as well as receiving the distinguished “Eleven Who Care Honor” from KARE 11 in Minnesota in May, 2006. St. Paul, Minnesota honored him with the key to the city and proclaimed “Henry A. Oertelt Day” on April 23, 2006. Oertelt was also of 52,000 video survivor testimonies filmed for the Spielberg/Shoah project, “Survivors of the Shoah” and from that he became one of five showcased survivors in “Surviving Auschwitz: Five Personal Journeys” for the Shoah Foundation. 

Oertelt is one of the five hundred real life identities given out at the U.S. Holocaust Museum.  He was featured in Dr. Rhoda Lewin's book "Witnesses to the Holocaust, an Oral History" and quoted in Nick Strimple’s “Music in the Twentieth Century.” He was interviewed for NBC News and the "McNeil-Lehrer Report", as well as various Twin City and other TV and radio stations and has been the subject of countless write-ups in a variety of newspapers and magazines.  Oertelt is also one of the more than thirty survivors featured in Robert Sutz’ “Living History exhibit” of life masks. Oertelt is additionally a recipient of three honorary doctorate degrees from St. Cloud State University, South West State University, and St. Olaf College, all in Minnesota.

We also started a 501(c)(3) education fund, Six Million for Six Million, for the film project that will provide tax deductions to donors.  We have estimated the film and marketing budget to be six million dollars. If six million people donate one dollar each, we can make this film.

You can wish Henry a happy birthday and contribute to our campaign in several ways!

Help wish Henry a Happy 89th birthday and be a link in An Unbroken Chain

  • Donate a dollar to the film project at
  • Tweet about our project
  • Post a note on Facebook or MySpace
  • Write a story and post to your blog
  • Invite us to speak to your group
  • Introduce us to a potential investor
  • Share your thoughts in a comment

Thanks for all your continued support! Let’s give Henry a trip to the red carpet for his 90th!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Suicide Bomber Victim is Jewish Film Festival Speaker

One minute filmmaker and freelance journalist Jack Baxter was behind the camera, and the next second, thanks to a suicide bomber, he was in front of the lens. Some would say that Baxter was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but fate has a strange way of handing out destiny. The blast made Baxter a physical victim of random violence, but it also gave him the opportunity to focus his camera on the reality of senseless terrorism. Although severely injured, Baxter and his team lived to film the aftermath of the attack on the beach of Tel Aviv.

This is a story that must be told. “Blues By The Beach,” one of the premier selections of the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, will be shown on February 21 at Harkins Chandler Crossroads at 7 PM.  This film is an Arizona exclusive and has never been shown in the state.

In April, 2003, Jack Baxter traveled to Tel Aviv to film the international background and free spirit of the patrons who flocked to the bar Mike’s Place and to bask on the beach surrounded by vibrant, live blues. Jew, Arab, and European sat side by side, linked by their youth, sense of adventure, and love of music.

After midnight on April 30, a suicide bomber attempted to enter the bar but was pushed from the entrance by the security guard. The terrorist blew himself up, killing three people.  Severely injured, suddenly Baxter was on he other side of the camera as two of his team, Joshua Faudem and his girlfriend Pavla Fleischer, continued to film. Audiences will have the opportunity to hear it firsthand from guest speaker Jack Baxter, who is flying from New York City to the East Valley specifically for this film. The producer has reason to be proud. His film is the recipient of awards in the Hamptons, Fire Island, and Avignon-New York Film Festivals where it was voted Best Documentary.
Writes David Mamet: “This is a very, very important film. Terrorism is the directed, purposeful taking of innocent life for supposedly political purposes …To which fact this film bluntly and incontestably testifies.”

Echoing his sentiments, film selection committee chairman Nancy Stutman says, “Our mission is to spotlight films that would not normally be available to our audiences. This premiere screening  of “Blues By The Beach” by the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival is the only opportunity for our audiences to see this landmark movie.” Stutman and her committee spent more than eight months previewing scores of films before choosing the ten that appear in the 2010 Festival lineup. “The goal of our festival is for our ticket holders to experience unique one-of-a-kind cinematic events reflecting the culture and traditions of the Jewish people,” says Stutman.

If there is any quality that links the films in the 2010 roster, whether they are documentary, comedy, tragedy, it is the survival of the Jewish people for over five thousand years. Mike‘s Place has reopened and the security guard is out of the hospital and back on duty. “Blues By the Beach” resonates with recovery, perseverance, and hope. For more information, go to