Monday, November 22, 2010

Iron Cross is a Powerful Must See

I recently saw Iron Cross at the Museum of Tolerance. It was a powerful film about a Joseph, Polish Holocaust Survivor, Roy Scheider, who returns to Germany to see his son, who has been living there for some time. (We thought our Second Generation Survivor Stephanie Oertelt Samuels was so unusual, having lived in Germany and another film offers the same premise!) Joseph runs into a man he suspects is a former Nazi who killed his whole family and plans revenge. The director of the film is the child of a Survivor who the film was based on. Joshua Newton said his dad had seen his whole family get shot in front of him and spent his life very angry. Sadly, Joshua’s father died before the film came out and Roy Scheider ironically died nine months later of the same cause.

Joshua also said that their relationship was the model for the film. Joshua’s son, and him, on the other hand, worked together on this film – his son, Alexander played the role of the young son. The film had a shocking ending that left most of the audience a bit disturbed. At least I was. However, Joshua’s film was a remarkable example of why we need more films on the subject. I asked him during the Q&A how much his budget was, since he filmed in Germany and had flashbacks that included the need for period costumes, vehicles, etc. I was curious if it was anything like our budget for An Unbroken Chain. I was shocked for the second time that evening when I found out the budget was in fact, thirty million. That just goes to show that our partner is an extremely shrewd production company – I believe that we can pull off our four million dollar budget and still deliver a high quality film. Only time will tell though. Congratulations to the Newtons on an excellent film! Highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Holocaust Education Workshop Coincides w/ Kristallnacht

This year on Kristallnacht, the anniversary of the start of the Holocaust, I find myself in the middle of a multi-day workshop put on by the Anti-Defamation League of LA for educators. We have had sessions at the Museum of Tolerance, the new LA Museum of the Holocaust (pictured), and the American Jewish University. Since I’m planning to be a volunteer docent at the LA Museum of the Holocaust, I thought I would take the course and continue my own education for research for the An Unbroken Chain film project and my volunteer efforts. We aim for An Unbroken Chain to be a tool for these educators and understanding the challenges and nuances of designing a film that can be used in the classroom has been very useful.

Sunday I looked around the packed room of almost one hundred educators with awe. Some people had flown in all the way from the East Coast and some had driven up from communities as far as Orange County, to better themselves as teachers. We spent about eight hours in classes that day, grueling sessions where some of the top experts in the country presented material while providing countless resources, ideas and support. It was a testimony to their dedication – giving up personal time with their families to learn about the Holocaust and its lessons for themselves and their students.

We will receive special teaching certificates on our last day tomorrow, and some of the participants might receive an extra increase in their point/pay system, but I don’t know if anyone will really ever give them the recognition they deserve for their efforts. I am really grateful for their dedication to preserving these stories and sharing them with the next generation. As we all know, we will be relying on teachers like these in the next fifteen to twenty years as our precious Holocaust Survivors age and retire from speaking. I look forward to working with these teachers and their schools again in the future through my museum connection and when our project comes to fruition.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Alice Dancing Under the Gallows - Official Trailer

Henry Oertelt and his brother, Kurt are featured in the video at 2:35 when it shows a choir in Therenstadt, the first of the 5 camps that Henry escaped from.

Good luck to the "Alice the Film" project on this wonderful upcoming docu on 106 year old Holocaust Survivor, Alice Herz Sommer. She still plays the piano every day. Henry, now 89, has said without a doubt that music and the ability to sing in Theresenstadt was one of the links in his Unbroken Chain of survival.