The Miami Jewish Film Festival, the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at the University of Miami, the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach and the Holocaust Teacher Institute at the University of Miami present the seventh annual film series on the Holocaust.
The free community program will take place at the Miami Beach JCC and will feature speakers and discussions led by Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff, Director of Education for the University of Miami Holocaust Institute.
The three-film series will kick off on Thursday, October 20 with a special screening of the internationally acclaimed film “Three Minutes – A Lengthening.”
Produced by Steve McQueen and narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, the documentary transforms rare home color film footage shot in Poland in 1938 into a testimony to the victims of the Holocaust. The battered, meticulously restored celluloid extract was almost beyond salvage, before being rescued from a Florida attic. Following the film presentation, there will be an in-depth discussion with Dr. Nikki Freeman, the new Director of Education at Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach.
The series continues on Thursday, November 17 with the screening of “Final Account”.
The film is an urgent portrait of the last living generation of ordinary people who participated in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. The film raises vital and timely questions about authority, conformity, complicity and perpetration, national identity and responsibility, as men and women ranging from former SS members to civilians in never-before-seen interviews take into account their memories, perceptions and personal appreciations of their own role in the greatest human crimes in history. The presentation is accompanied by a discussion moderated by Dr. Haim Shaked, director of the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies.
“Winter Journey” is the third film in the series. It will be screened on Thursday, December 15.
Based on NPR radio host Martin Goldsmith’s highly personal book detailing his search for ancestral history and homeland, the film artfully weaves past and present, sharing the stories of his parents, who were gifted musicians. and could only perform as members of the Jewish Cultural Federation, an arts organization used by the Nazis as a propaganda tool. Leading the post-screening discussion is Danny Reed, director of cultural arts at the Miami Beach JCC.
“As a student and teacher of film and literature, film has always been a great entry point for me into studying and learning about the Holocaust. As noted by scholar Michael Berenbaum, “In movies, visual images are often combined with words to tell a story that engages the eyes, ears and mind.” So the message I want to convey in the series is “How the Holocaust was- it humanly possible” by visually showing history and its many facets,” said Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff.
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Dr. Kassenoff explained how the idea for the series came about.
“As I have attended the Miami Jewish Film Festival over the years, it occurred to me to ask Igor Shteyrenberg, Executive Director of MJFF, whom I consider a gifted film expert, if he would partnering with me on a series specifically dedicated to the study of the Holocaust for the community. He immediately said “YES!” Then I approached my friend and colleague, Dr. Haim Shaked, director of the Sue & Leonard Miller Center for Judaic Studies/George Feldenkrais Program at the University of Miami. Dr. Shaked was so excited. He then offered to fund the series. We then asked Sharon Horowitz, Executive Director of the Holocaust Memorial Greater Miami Jewish Federation in Miami Beach, and she also joined us immediately. Thus, the series was born! Today, we are now equal partners in funding, each sharing the cost of the series.
I asked Dr. Kassenoff to reflect on his own personal experience of the Holocaust.
“When I came to America in 1941 as a child Holocaust refugee after being on the run and in hiding with my parents and my late brother Federal Magistrate Judge Ted Klein, my father held my hand as we were approaching the Statue of Liberty. He told me clearly that I am now in a free country, never to be afraid of tyranny again and that I should grow up to be a teacher and do three important things for him as than a rabbi. One, always studying and learning new things. Second, sharing my knowledge of our experience of having to hide, run and flee because of anti-Semitism and teach others. Three, do community service. Do always doing good to others. Above all, he made me promise that I would never let the world forget. ‘Screening The Holocaust Series’ is one of the ways I keep my promise.
Dr. Kassenoff expressed the impressions she hopes viewers will take away from the series.
“I want viewers to learn something about the history of the Holocaust that they have never known before. I particularly want with these films to engage in a dialogue and remember and never forget. And then talk about how which we, as a community, can unite with all ethnicities to fight anti-Semitism and prejudice and plan for a better world.In Yiddish we say “A Beseler Veldt”!
For more information on the series and the films on the program, go to miamijewishfilmfestival.org