The True Story of Armed Jewish Resistance During World War II
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ABOUT THE FILM
A Production of New Moon Films
“Far too often, and for too long, the story of Jews who resisted the Nazis has been lost within the larger re-telling of the history of the Nazi’s efforts to exterminate European Jews.... Later generations deserve to know this history. "
-Alexander B. Rossino, PhD, Former Research Historian, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
THE PARTISANS Deep within the forests of WWII Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and the Ukraine, more than 20,000 Jews fought against the Nazis and Nazi collaborators. From as many as 100 tiny encampments, armed brigades, often from holes in the ground, with whatever weapons they could construct, trade for or steal, men, women and children organized to engage the German Army. They executed tactical missions attacking the Nazis and their collaborators, blowing up trains, bridges, police stations and telegraph lines. Most of them had witnessed the murder of their families and friends before escaping to the forest. They carried out treacherous missions with abandon, when possible carrying two grenades—one for their target and one for themselves in case of capture. By 1944, Partisan vigilance had made the forests so dangerous that Nazi soldiers were afraid to enter.
SHATTERING THE MYTH OF JEWISH PASSIVITY Through powerful and intimate interviews with the last living Partisans and through the collected journals, and memoirs of many others, this documentary film will shatter the myth of Jewish passivity in the face of the Holocaust, and celebrate the soulful bravery, leadership and missions of the Jewish resistance against the Nazis and their collaborators. As 85-year old Partisan Shalom Yoran put it, “Our history must not contain only tragedy. We cannot allow that. It must also have heroic struggles, self-defense, war, even death with honor.” A partisan, by definition, is a fighter who sabotages an occupying army. The Jewish partisans waged guerrilla warfare against the Nazis, but much more importantly, they defied the extermination of their people, their culture, and their religion, fighting to preserve the memory of their past and the possibility of their future. ~ Elie Weisel.
THIS IS 11:59 PM “This is the final hour if we are to make a film with the actual participants in the Partisans,” says Professor Michael Berenbaum, former founding director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. “We are losing Holocaust survivors day by day.” As we near the 75th anniversary of the onset of World War II, we have one last chance to capture these stories from those who lived the history.
TO THE HAUNTING QUESTION “Why didn’t Jews fight back?” IT WILL ANSWER: “They did.” While dramatizations, like Defiance and Inglorious Bastards, have come out of Hollywood, there is a true story - a story that urgently needs to be told. The Jewish Partisans Film Project will tell it, and in the telling, will reveal a new lens through which to view the Holocaust. This lens will illuminate the perspective, not of those who were hidden in floorboards or walls; and not of those who were brutally tortured and starved in concentration camps. It will reveal the story of Jews who over and again escaped the death grasp of the Nazis and courageously fought them.
IN THEIR OWN VOICES, interviews will be the centerpiece of the film. We will weave interviews with our scholars around the partisan’s telling of their journeys, creating a rich intimate story set in historical context. Using rare photographs depicting Partisan lives, as well as private letters, journals, artifacts, gathered from familial collections and international historical archives, this lesser known history of the Holocaust will be documented.
AWARD WINNING FILMMAKERS, Julia Mintz, Dan Sturman, Tricia Reidy, Buddy Squires, along with a distinguished board of advisors, including scholars Antony Polonsky, Michael Berenbaum, David Engel, Allan Levine, and Velvel Pasternak, have committed themselves to developing this film. Join us by lending your support. Your generous contribution will help to make possible this timely and vitally important project. Please see the appended documents for detailed information about our award-winning production team and distinguished board of advisors.
“At a time when Holocaust stories have been embellished and falsified, it is important that an honest account be developed in a format that is accessible to a general audience.”
- Brana Gurewitsch, Curator, The Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York
Director/Producer: Julia Mintz
Writer/co-producer: Maia Harris
Film Advisor/creative consultant: Dan Sturman
Editor: Tricia Reidy
Director of Photography: Buddy Squires
Cinematographer: Allen Moore
Composer: Phil Marshall
Media Advisor: Peter Heady
ACADEMIC ADVISORY BOARD
James M. Glass
Alexander B. Rossino
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Julia Mintz, Producer / Director/ Writer
Julia produced the documentary California State of Mind about Pat Brown and his political dynasty, slated for PBS broadcast 2012. Mintz Co- produced Joe Papp in Five Acts premiered at Tribeca film festival for American Masters 2012. Mintz also post-produced and associate produced theatrical documentary Soundtrack for a Revolution about the Civil Rights Movement which was short-listed for an Academy Award® Best Documentary Feature 2009, premiering at Cannes Film Festival and nominated for Writers Guild. Mintz post-produced Nanking, short-listed for Academy Award® which won Peabody and Emmy®, and Editorial Award at Sundance and has produced programs for NASA, PBS and NHK. Additional projects include A Son's Sacrifice, winner of the IDA 2007 Short Award; The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo, Emmy® nominee; and Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life, Emmy® Award winner Best Documentary. Mintz has taught filmmaking and digital post-production at numerous workshops worldwide and held an adjunct faculty position at LIU in NYC.
Dan Sturman, Producer
Dan wrote and directed the Academy Award nominated Soundtrack For a Revolution, and Sundance Award-winning documentary film Nanking, and produced the Academy Award®-winning documentary Twin Towers. Between 2001 and 2003, Sturman produced three seasons of the NBC documentary series Crime and Punishment. He has reported and produced for ABC News, CBS News, and the BBC while based in Los Angeles; for Reuters and NBC News while based in London; and for ABC News 20/20 in New York. In 1992, Sturman was the associate producer of another Academy Award®-winning documentary, A Time For Justice. The film, produced by Charles Guggenheim, commemorates the lives of the men, women, and children who were killed during the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. Sturman is currently in production on a feature length documentary about child actors. Sturman graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University.
Lou Cove, Executive Producer
Former Executive Director of Reboot, a think-tank and incubator for Jewish creativity where he oversaw a network of the country's leading young creative's digital pioneers at Google, The Daily, Behance and Wet Paint; creators of television shows and films like Lost, Weeds, The Office, Gossip Girl, Anchorman, Murderball, and Little Miss Sunshine; journalists from the New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, and more. Together with this group, Lou launched projects like the National Day of Unplugging, 10Q and Sukkah City that have engaged millions. Prior to Reboot, Lou was vice president of the National Yiddish Book Center, senior producer at Advance Internet and Editor in Chief of the Optimist Publications chain of alternative weekly newspapers. Lou is also the producer of the forthcoming, Sundance-backed film Green Shall Overcome, which chronicles the story of controversial environmental activist Van Jones and his rise from grassroots organizer to Obama Green Jobs Czar to Glenn Beck/rightwing lightning rod.
Tricia Reidy, Editor
Reidy has worked as a documentary editor for twenty years. She collaborated on twelve programs with Ken Burns including episodes of Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, The War, and Frank Lloyd Wright. She has received an American Cinema Editors nomination for The Civil War, an Emmy® Award nomination for best editing for Frank Lloyd Wright, for which she also received a Peabody Award, and has been screened at The Sundance Festival and the Cannes Film Festival. She edited Judith Helfand’s A Healthy Baby Girl, broadcast as part of the PBS series POV. The film was an official Sundance Film Festival selection and winner of a Peabody Award.
Buddy Squires: Director of Photography
Buddy Squires is an Academy Award® nominated and Emmy® Award winning Director of Photography. He is best known as the cinematographer of numerous documentary features and television specials including The War, Jazz, The Civil War, New York, Nanking, Mark Twain, Crime & Punishment, Smashed, Baseball, Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, The Donner Party, Reporting America at War, Ansel Adams, Ram Dass: Fierce Grace, One Survivor Remembers, Amato, Frank Lloyd Wright, Soldiers of Peace: A Children’s Crusade, Heart of a Child, Compassion in Exile: The 14th Dalai Lama, Chimps: So Like Us, The West, Scottsboro: An American Tragedy, and Out of the Past. Squires has photographed six Academy Award® nominated films and one Academy Award® winner. Eighteen of the films he has shot have been nominated for Emmy® Awards and nine have won. In 2007, he was awarded the International Documentary Association’s Outstanding Documentary Cinematography Award (career achievement). His producing credits include Statue of Liberty (Academy Award® nomination with Ken Burns) and Coney Island (Sundance Film Festival). He is the director of Listening to Children (Emmy® Award nomination) and the co-director of Fast Eddie, Seeking Justice, People’s Poetry, and War Files.
Allen Moore: Cinematographer
A graduate of Harvard University, has been producing, directing, photographing and editing his own documentaries for more than 30 years. His independent films include: The Shepherds of Berneray, Food On Hand, Black Water, A Sheepherder’s Homecoming,The Pursuit of Truth: 200 Years at Middlebury College, and Albert Alcalay: Self Portraits. Among the honors awarded to Allen are several state artist fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship in Filmmaking. Allen has also served as a director of photography for several of Ken Burns’s films, including The Civil War, The Congress, Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, Mark Twain and Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip. For his work on Baseball, Allen received a Primetime Emmy® Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Cinematography. In addition to his work on Ken Burns’s films, Allen has been a Director of Photography on a number of other award-winning documentaries. He received a second Primetime Emmy® Award nomination for his cinematography work on Ric Burns’ American Experience series on New York. Other film credits include: Wild by Law, The Donner Party, The Way West, Divided Highways, The Harriman Expedition, and Monkey Trial, winner of the George Foster Peabody Award.
Maia Harris: Co -Writer
Maia has produced and written numerous documentaries for national PBS broadcast, most recently Banished (PBS 2008), directed by Marco Williams, which premiered at Sundance in 2007 and won the Spectrum Award at Full Frame Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at the Miami International Film Festival. Other credits include The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo (PBS 2005), Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel (AMC 2001), Storyville:The Naked Dance (PBS 1998) and Listening to Children: A Moral Journey with Robert Coles (PBS 1995). Harris began her career on the civil rights television history, Eyes on the Prize. As a proposal writer, she has successfully raised production funds from public and private sources for documentary projects including: No Job for a Woman: The Women Who Fought to Report World War II ($675,000), Slavery and the Making of America ($3 million) as well as smaller amounts for It’ll Be Me: The History of African American Theater and The Battle of Little Bighorn for The American Experience. She is currently writing an NEH grant for Italians in America, a production of Ark Media and WETA. Maia is the recipient of a Lyndhurst Prize, two Emmy® Awards, and two Emmy® Award nominations, and a Louisiana Divi- sion of the Arts fellowship. Also an educator, she co-founded the New Orleans Charter Middle School in 1998, and holds a B.A. in Literature and Afro- American Studies from Harvard College and an M.Ed. from Columbia University Teachers’ College.
Peter Heady: Media Advisor
Peter has worked with many of the industries greatest documentary film directors including: Erroll Morris Academy Award winning, Fog Of War, Sundance Film Festival Award winner Capturing The Friedmans by Andrew Jarecki. Academy Award® nominated Tupac Resurrection by Lauren Lazin, John Sales’ Casa De Los Babies, Spike Lee’s Jim Brown All American, Geodfrey Reggio’s Naqoyaqatsi, Pieces Of April by Peter Hedges, and Ken Burn’s documentary films including the multi-part series: The War, Base- ball, The West, Lewis and Clark and National Parks. Peter is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology. A twenty-year professional with experience in all aspects of film and post-production, Peter has worked extensively as both a colorist and editor, lending a unique perspective to his finishing work. Peter is also a frequent speaker on topics of interest to the larger filmmaking community at film festivals, technical conferences and roundtable discussions around the country.
Phil Marshall: Composer
Phil was classically trained by the renowned Aaron Copland and Dr. Albert Harris, and continues to orchestrate and conduct all his own works. Phil has worked with a wide variety of acclaimed directors including Steven Spielberg, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, James Keach, and Michael Mann. Notably, Phil has scored all of Bill Guttentag’s artful documentaries including Academy Award®-winning Twin Towers and the Peabody Award-winning Nanking featuring the acclaimed Kronos Quartet. Phil has been a very prolific composer in his own right. His feature film credits range for the highly acclaimed Always, Nell, and Endless Summer II, as well as seven film collaboration with composer Angelo Badalamenti on A Very Long Engagement and the psychological thrillers The Beach and Arlington Road. On the television side, Phil has scored over twenty films for the Disney Channel, three films for the Family Channel, American Daughter for Lifetime and the top rated legal drama Law & Order: Crime and Punishment for producer Dick Wolf. Phil’s talents don’t just lie in the film composing ranks. He’s won a producing Grammy for BB King’s album Deuce’s Wild and wrote a Guitar Concerto for classical guitarist Christopher Parkening.
SELECT QUOTES FROM THE FILM'S ADVISORS
“Little comprehensive work has been done on the Jewish Partisans...your film can illustrate the many acts of spiritual and armed resistance and the circumstances by which they were physically and morally possible.... We as a nation are [currently] engaged in war, and witness to wars that threaten to devolve into genocide. We must take the time to look to the past and find the keys to greater understanding and peace.”
- Omer Bartov, DPhil, Author of In God’s Name: Genocide and Religion in the Twentieth Century and The “Jew” in Cinema: From The Golem to Don’t Touch My Holocaust; John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History, Brown University
“The complex problems raised by the bitter conflicts between the pro-Soviet and nationalist resistance movements...remains one of the few topics related to the Holocaust which still needs both serious academic discussion and popularization.... Jews who wished to resist had little alternative...than to ally themselves with the Soviets. This however both intensified local anti-Semitism and placed the Jewish resisters in a movement whose goals were not always consistent either with Jewish interests or with wider democratic goals as understood in the West. At the same time, the heroism of such individuals and their contribution to the ultimate allied victory cannot be denied. I very much look forward to working with you on this complex and painful topic and producing a film that will do justice to all those involved.”
-Anotony Polonsky, MA, DPhil, FRHistS ~ Albert Ambramson Professor of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; Author of The Jews in Poland-Lithuania and Russia 1350 to the Present Day (2 vols.)
“This...issue has taken on greater importance because young people today must learn to distinguish between resistance fighters and terrorists. There is an absolute moral distinction between them.... I only chose to get involved with one or two outside projects, but I am most enthusiastic about this one because it is truly important.”
- Michael Berenbaum, PhD ~ President, The Berenbaum Group Author of The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust Chief Historical Consultant—The Last Days, Academy Award Winner Professor of Jewish Studies, The American Jewish University Former Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
“As the Founder and Director of the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, I have spent my career on the preservation and exposition of this story.... I am confident that you...are committed to making a documentary film that will place human faces on one of history’s darkest hours, while illuminating the resilience and vitality of the human spirit, through testimonies of resistance and survival while carefully contextualizing the individual partisan’s journey.”
-Mitch Braff ~Founder and Executive Director, Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation
“The activities of Jewish partisans in eastern Europe during the Second World War and their relations with other ethnically-based partisan groups have become a subject of intense interest and (in many cases) controversy in the countries of the former Soviet Bloc. They have long [been] the subject of much mythology among citizens of those countries as well as among Jews throughout the world. Your project will, I am certain, contribute to more reasoned, informed discussion of this emotionally-charged subject. It can have worldwide resonance.”
-David Engel, PhD ~Author of The Holocaust: The Third Reich and the Jews and In the Shadow of Auschwitz: The Polish Government-in-Exile and the Jews, 1939-1942 Greenberg Professor of Holocaust Studies, New York University
“At an time when Holocaust stories have been embellished and falsified, it is important than an honest account be developed in a format that is accessible to a general audience. My experience as Associate Curator of the award-winning exhibition, Daring to Resist: Jewish Defiance in the Holocaust...has convinced me that it is a topic of enduring interest. It captures the imagination and engages the minds and hearts of thoughtful people. It raises universal questions of ethics and challenges standards of moral behavior.”
-Brana Gurewitsch ~ Archivist/Curator, Museum of Jewish Heritage Author of Daring to Resist: Jewish Defiance in the Holocaust (companion volume to the exhibition) and Mothers, Sisters, Resisters: Oral Histories of Women Who Survived the Holocaust
MORE ABOUT THE FILM
Download funding proposal for JEWISH PARTISANS (PDF)
As a fiscal sponsor, The National Center for Jewish Film serves as a non-profit tax-exempt umbrella organization that accepts and administers contributions made to select film projects. Fiscal sponsorship allows filmmakers to solicit and receive tax deductible donations from individuals and gifts from foundations without having to create a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.