This is long, but I hope you read all of my thoughts about this remarkable film by Ashton Gleckman.
I was asked to be in the first group of test screeners for this film. I had never met Ashton, but we were connected by a fellow teacher friend. I am a retired elementary music teacher, who now serves as a Holocaust educator for libraries and schools in Indiana. My talks are based on my three trips to Auschwitz, Treblink, Warsaw, Majdanek, Israel and Romania, with my friend and Auschwitz and Dr. Mengele twin-experimentation survivor, the late Eva Mozes Kor, of Terre Haute, Indiana.
In my talks, I speak about the staggering and evil numbers associated with the Holocaust, but who can comprehend six million of anything, much less human lives? More and more, I am adding personal stories and photos of individuals in my talks to connect better with my audiences.
That is what I love about this film Ashton has created from the depths of his heart. He introduces the "basics" of the Holocaust with historical references and period film clips, but the focus of the film are the stories of simply remarkable people who have their own important, personal and unique "angle" of the Shoah. And these interviews WILL stay with you.
I hand out list of recommended books and films to my audiences, who often knew very very little about the Holocaust when they attend my talk. I now will highly recommend this as an excellent film, especially for people who need a basic intro about the Holocaust, and because the interviews will touch the heart of just about everyone.
I will tell you that I did not really care for Ashton's film when I served as one of the very first test screeners. It was too long and it felt like so many other Holocaust films I had seen (and I have seen just about all of them). At the conclusion of the screening - I told Ashton he had really thrown in the whole "Holocaust kitchen sink" and that I wanted to hear more of the stories and interviews. He seemed to take the criticism of the five of us to heart that day. I missed the 2nd test screening, so I was wondering how it turned out.
I have to tell you that I could not believe how much Ashton changed the film. It was a totally different film. Totally.
He focused and tightened the editing, but absolutely - most importantly - turned the film into a remarkable piece of cinema. And absolute tour de force of Holocaust retelling and informing. And Ashton wrote much of the music which is touching and beautiful. I am so proud of Ashton.
Please tell others about this film. It is important and needs to be seen.