Tuesday, February 23, 2010

300+ People Learn About An Unbroken Chain at Festival



Here's a lesson ala when life gives you lemons. Last night I attended the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival at the Harkins Camelview, not only as a board member and the PR Co Chair, but of course due to my interest in all things Holocaust to prepare for our feature film project, An Unbroken Chain. I was especially interested in meeting Dr. Michael Rubinoff, Professor of Film and Media studies at ASU and an expert on the Holocaust. To our dismay, the theater was experiencing technical difficulties, the details of which I'm not quite clear myself today, but all of the sudden, we had a room of over 300 people and nothing to show them. Like any hard working indie film producer, whose dream is to talk to a room full of film buffs, (and in my case, Jewish film buffs who were waiting to see a Holocaust feature film,) I quietly offered to run out and entertain the room with my tales of development. Ten or so minutes later, with no other solution in sight, I was offered the microphone from the very kind president of our festival, Jerry M. Oprah style, I walked down the aisle and introduced myself, as the festival's PR person, and nervously laughed that I needed to do something about the situation and so as a filmmaker, I would offer to tell them about An Unbroken Chain, my adaptation of my friend, 89 year old Holocaust Survivor, Henry Oertelt's book of the same name. I also promised not to ask them for money, but that I wanted to raise awareness of our film. I can't be sure but I think I had the floor for 20 minutes or so. I answered a few questions and even plugged the Festival's new "Film in Schools" program for educators where we bring an educational film out for students. (This year it's the story, Life in a Jar, about a Polish Catholic woman named Irene Sendler who saved over 2500 children from Warsaw.) I also nicely let the audience know that their ticket sales go toward this program as well as towards the Hospice of the Valley in hopes of stopping any uproar for refunds. Soon, Jerry relieved me and introduced our guest, Dr. Rubinoff, who would now speak before the film instead of after it. A few individuals approached me and said they had connections in Hollywood and would be glad to make introductions - one to Spielberg and one to a Jewish actress, Debra Messing, from Will and Grace. Eventually it was show time, and the scheduled film, Leo and Claire, was shown. Only 9 people requested their money back when all was said and done, so for this producer, I will say, thank you to the crowd for your kindness, and to Harkins and the Festival for the opportunity to talk to the community and practice my schpeil. Hope to see you next year with our trailer!

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