Today we'd like to share with you a bit about our new film, part of the permanent exhibit at the Zekelman Holocaust Center in Michigan, which opens on Holocaust Memorial Day, January 28, 2024, .
We were commissioned to make a film introducing the exhibit, giving museum-goers the historical background they need to understand the context of the Holocaust, so we created a short film outlining about 2,000 years of the history of the Jews in Europe before the interwar period.
Fitting thousands of years of history into the space of 7 minutes was no small task. We knew we didn't want to create a literal film, as much as we wanted to create an emotionally moving film, while still being historically accurate. We needed a concept that would work with evocations and metaphors, where we couldn't fit all the historical details. And Michigan is home to many survivors, and it was important for us to include them in this film.
So the two visual elements we developed that helped shape the film are:
-interviews with Michigan survivors projected onto locations where events happened (in Europe and Israel)
-historical images filmed in artistic ways on location Europe and Israel
We filmed interviews with the survivors at the Holocaust Center in Michigan in August:
We began filming in Europe at the beginning of October, hopping on planes between cities more or less every day, filming former Jewish hubs like Krakow, Berlin, Speyer, Worms, and Barcelona. Halfway into our filming trip, the massacre by Hamas on October 7th happened. While it rattled us to the core - especially given the nature of this project - it also strengthened our resolve and determination to make this film impactful.
Filming in Worms, Germany:
Krakow, Poland: Still from the original ARRI Alexa Mini footage of the projection of an interview with a Michigan survivor who's from Poland herself :
Barcelona, Spain: Still from the original ARRI Alexa Mini footage of the projection of an interview with a Michigan survivor at the steps in Barcelona where the Ramban disputed Christianity in 1263:
Filming in Krakow, Poland:
Because of the situation in Israel, we had to film some of the desert scenes on a ranch in Palm Desert, California:
The experience of editing this footage over the following month was quite emotional, sitting with this epic saga - the story of thousands of years of oppression and pogroms, and learning, and flourishing, and blood libels, and crusades, and expulsions - all while the news replayed similar imagery… except current, not in the distant past.
Now more than ever, the history of the Jewish people needs to be known.
Now more than ever, Holocaust education is a must.
People have to know the history… so that we are not doomed to repeat it.
The Holocaust Center opening in the press:
New York Times:
The Detroit Jewish News:
The Detroit News: