Monday, March 22, 2010

Survivor and Steph Speak on Holocaust Together

Last night I was privileged to share the stage at Temple Solel in Paradise Valley with a Holocaust Survivor named Magda Herzberger. She is a speaker and author of several books including, Holocaust: A Survival Story. We showed our short film and talked about the progress of our adaptation of An Unbroken Chain: My Journey Through the Nazi Holocaust.

Magda read from the following passage in her book to describe an emotional reunion with her mother after the Holocaust to her surprise and delight, had also survived.

"I couldn't sleep that night. I still couldn't believe it was true. The next morning we continued our our journey to Cluj...

We came to a big apartment house which had a gate equipped with a bell. You had to ring the bell so that somebody from inside the building could open it. My knees were shaking from my strong emotions when I touched the bell I told myself, Now you are going to find out the truth.

I rang the bell and a window opened on the second floor. I heard my mother's voice. "Who is there?"
I said, "It is your daughter coming home!"
My mother and I both started screaming hysterically due to our indescribable joy.

My homecoming was a total surprise to my mother. She ran down the stairs to greet me and opened the gate in a hurry. We embraced and kissed each other. Our uncontrolled screaming was followed by fits of crying. My companion was crying too, and finally she left, saying good-bye to us, hoping that this miracle which she witnessed would also happen to her..."

Magda's book tells of how at age 18 she survived 3 concentration camps. She told us that she promised God she would never stop telling her story, and at age 85, she was there, awing us with her energy and positivity.

Thank you to everyone who attended the event, and to our organizers, The Tribe, Jewish Sisterhood, and Young Jewish Phoenix for putting this together, and to our hosts at Temple Solel. It was a memorable evening for all.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Priest Dennis (the Script Supervisor) is Another Link in our Chain

“Mr. Oertelt's life is the kind of story that needs to be told, especially to the young. - and film's great power to bring those stories into people's lives is exactly the reason I am interested in film in the first place.

I am very excited about "An Unbroken Chain" and would like to be of assistance in any way I can.

Your listing on "Below the Line" caught my attention last Friday and I went straight to the library. The book was overwhelming.

As to my background, I have been a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for 32 years, currently assigned in residence at St. Basil's parish. My assignment "in residence" provides a great "day job" which allows me to be engaged with filmmaking in whatever way I cook up. That has mainly been as a script supervisor..”

It has been a busy time for us. We recently opened a new office in West Hollywood and have been getting organized and starting to follow up on some exciting conversations and introductions. Then, out of the blue, I got a call from a priest named Dennis, who is a script supervisor in his spare time. Yes, only in Hollywood! He told me that he included An Unbroken Chain in his homily last Sunday, which was about how God’s faithfulness invites us forward. His experience includes The Departed and The West Wing, and he has even offered to give a copy of the book to a major star he is friendly with.

Needless to say we look forward to staying in touch with Dennis and hopefully bringing him along to Bulgaria to help out.

We look forward to continuing our momentum with some hard core networking and good karma, this project will soon get off the ground and into the theaters. Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

FIlm in Schools presentation at Holocaust Education Day

Stephanie Houser, producer of An Unbroken Chain, a Holocaust feature film project, and Roni Zee, the Creative Director of the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, spoke to a group of about 70 teachers at an all day Holocaust conference for teachers at the Bureau of Jewish Education in Arizona. Their session, "How to use Film to teach the Holocaust" covered a few selections that they offer schools in Arizona. A rep. from the festival can come out and show the film, and then we offer an essay contest. This year we are bringing "Life in a Jar" a film about a Polish Catholic woman who saved over 2500 kids from the Warsaw ghetto. The essay is, "Would you risk your life for a stranger?"

In our session to teachers yesterday, we tried an experiment - we read a description of, "A Polish Winter" and then viewed the short. You too, can see the short by downloading it from their web site.

Here are our quiz questions:

1. What did you think of the story ‘Polish Winter?’

2. Did the story move you?

3. If it did why? If it didn’t why?

4. How did you relate to the sounds described in the story?

5. Were you able to imagine the scenes in the story?

The exercise provided a great discussion. Then we showed a news segment about Irene Sendler and a 15 minute Oscar winning short, called Toyland.