10 March 2007

Family history on film

The Genealogy Film Festival at the 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will screen films throughout the day, offering an educational, entertaining and illuminating line-up.

The conference will take place in Salt Lake City, from July 15-20.

Among the offerings:

Belzec: The Documentary
Director Guillaume Moscovitz has created a chilling account about this horrifically efficient Nazi death camp. It was in operation for less than one year, but at least 600,000 Jews, most from Galicia, were murdered there.

Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness
Chiune and Yukiko Sugihara, at the beginning of World War II, by an ultimate act of altruism and self-sacrifice, risked their careers, their livelihood and their future to save the lives of more than 6,000 Jews in Kaunus, Lithuania. This selfless act resulted in the second largest number of Jews rescued from the Nazis.

The Ritchie Boys
A group of teenagers who escaped the Nazis were trained in intelligence work and psychological warfare at Camp Ritchie in Maryland, and returned to Europe as the American soldiers with the greatest motivation to fight.

West Bank Story
This year's Academy Award-winning short film about Israeli soldier David, an Israeli soldier, and Palestinian fast food cashier Fatima. The unlikely couple fall in love amidst the animosity of their families' dueling falafel stands in the West Bank. A musical comedy about the hope for peace.

Everything is Illuminated
Jonathan Safran Foer travels to Ukraine to visit his Jewish roots and to find the family that saved his grandfather from the Nazis.

Four films by klezmer musician and filmmaker Yale Strom will be featured: The Hungarian-themed Carpati: 50 miles, 50 years and The Man from Munkacs. Galician/Polish-themed Klezmer on Fish Street and The Last Klezmer: Leopold Kozlowski, His Life and Music.

A Torah Returns to Poland
A Torah written in 1876 in Alsace, France accompanied the deportation of its community to Auschwitz. It survived, was discovered in New York and eventually was returned to Poland's contemporary community.

From Kristallnacht to Crystal Day: A Synagogue in Wroclaw Glows Again
A retrospective of life in Wroclaw, Poland (formerly Breslau, Germany) from 1829 until today through the eyes of a synagogue.

Swiss Jewry: An Island in the Twentieth Century
Dormant bank accounts, Nazi gold and refugees through the eyes of the Swiss Jewish community.

Popular repeats from last year's festival:
Watermarks, an inspirational film about the Viennese women’s swimming team from the Hakoah sports club, Hakoah. Bernie about filmmaker Jay Heyman’s Grandpa Bernie who grew up in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City. Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust, director Menachem Daum travels to Poland to find the peasant family that hid his father-in-law.

Pamela Weisberger of Los Angeles, who coordinated the festival, said additional films will be announced later. The complete schedule is expected to be online in April. To learn more about the conference, go to the conference Web site.

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