10/28/14

“A Shtetl in the Caribbean”, a Roadmovie Documentary…

…across Belarus, Ukraine, Israel, USA and Curacao is now on the way to your heart and to your cinema!

Click on CC (closed caption) to turn on/off English subtitles.

Trailer A Shtetl in the Caribbean from Memphis Film & Television on Vimeo.

A SHTETL IN THE CARIBBEAN tells the compelling story of two childhood friends who grew up on Curaçao, in search for their family history in Eastern Europe.

Mark and Tsale, children of Eastern European Jews that fled to Curaçao, travel back to the home countries of their ancestors. In a documentary road-movie across Curaçao, the United States, Belarus, Ukraine and Israel, we witness their discoveries, courage and despair while they are reminded of the sacrifices their parents had to make to provide their family with a better future.

This unknown story is revealed in a journey from the desolate wastelands of Eastern Europe to the exotic Caribbean, a contrast metaphoric for the history of Mark and Tsale’s ancestors.

A SHTETL IN THE CARIBBEAN originated from a strong emotion: we are all part of the same family, no matter how different we are. The film is also an homage to Curaçao, a small island with a big heart, and a place that has been a safe haven for strangers. Only in such a place a human being can truly build a home.

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BIOGRAPHY MARK WIZNITZER
Named after his two deceased grandfathers per Jewish tradition, Mark Leon Wiznitzer was born in the US and brought to Curacao as a baby. There he was called “ Buchi, ” a popular island nickname that legend dates back to the strongest African slave broken by the loss of his beloved wife, and is still often given to a native first son. In Willemstad, Mark attended the Dutch-language Hendrikschool before he moved to New York City at the age of eleven with his mother. But he returned to spend all his school vacations on Curacao, where he worked with his father in La Confianza, the family-owned department store. After studying political science at the State University of NY in Buffalo, Mark went on to complete a Masters in Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He worked in Curacao for Wiznitzer Brothers, the family’s retail and wholesale business, for a year before he was selected to join the US Department of State as a career diplomat in 1976, at which time he left Curacao for good. During his various assignments in Washington DC, Latin America and Europe, he earned awards for his performance in political and politico-military affairs, and strategic trade. After retiring in 1999, Mark completed an Executive MBA in Vienna. He was a volunteer for Barak Obama’s campaigns for the Democratic nomination and election as President. As a result of his first visit in 2010 to Vashkivtsi, Ukraine, the birthplace of the four Wiznitzer brothers, he organized his family’s restoration of the neglected Jewish cemetery there. He currently lives with his wife, Paula Goddard, in Virginia, where he recently became a volunteer advocate for senior residents of Arlington County.

BIOGRAPHY TSALE KIRZNER
Tsale Kirzner was born on Curaçao as the oldest son of Socher Kirzner and Fania Shusterman, refugees who built a home on the Caribbean island in 1948. He was named after his grandfather from his mothers side, Bezalel, who was killed by a firing squad in Mikasjevits in Belarus, as a warning to the Jewish people living in the town. Tsale went to the Hendrikschool and the Radulphus College on Curaçao, after which he moved to the US to study Sinology at Harvard University and economics at The George Washington University, graduating cum laude. Since 1974 Tsale lives in The Netherlands. Tsale is married to professor Lorraine Uhlaner and is father to five children.

Read more at: http://www.memphisfilmtv.com/een-sjtetl-in-de-cariben/?lang=en

06/23/14

“I Remember Them Now” by Laurence Salzmann

Blue Flower Press: In the late 1930’s, there were eight thousand Jews in Rădăuți, a small town in the Bukovina region of Romania. During 1974-76, when the photographer/filmmaker Laurence Salzmann went to Rădăuți on a Fulbright Fellowship, there were only two hundred and forty Jews among the entire population of twenty-two thousand.

“I Remember them Now” is a short film made from newly rediscovered, kodachromes and audio from the Salzmanns’ original time in Rădăuți.

04/3/14

A Shtetl in the Caribbean

Read more and contribute to the realization of the project at:
http://www.cinecrowd.nl/een-sjtetl-de-cariben?language=en

Mark Wiznitzer: “Language and culture are so intertwined. My father left Vascauti (Vashkivtsi, Vashkowitz) 40 km from Czernovitz in Bukovina in 1927.He attended cheder and did not have the opportunity to complete his education because he left Romania with his older brothers while in his mid-teens. But he eventually learned to do business in 7 languages, including Japanese. But Yiddish was his first language, in which he wrote to his brothers using Hebrew letters. My maternal grandmother, having finished gymnasium in Dresden where my mother was born, and her Polish-born university-educated husband, spoke German. But their other European languages came in handy as they had their other children in France and Belgium, and settled first in Colombia, and ultimately in Curaçao. To assimilate, my grandfather added “Montevenado” to his name, a Spanish translation of his surname. And so the name on his gravestone in the ancient Jewish cemetery Beit Haim Blenheim reads “Max Hirschberg Montevenado”. My mother, having received a Dutch education in Curaçao was fluent in several languages. But she did not learn Yiddish until she and my father made it through WWII in Japan, where they lived with my father’s cousin from Czernovitz and socialized with other Jews from Eastern Europe, as well as Iraq and Syria. When my parents returned to Curaçao in 1946, Yiddish came in handy as the language of the growing Ashkenazi community, which had reached a sufficient critical mass to resemble a “Shtetl”. In Curaçao we Ashkenzi Jews were callled “Polacos” because the first to arrive came from Polish Galicia, ironically from Snyatin, immediately across the Cheremosh river from, and the nearest town to, my father’s birthplace. My childhood classmate, Sherman de Jesus, lived near our community’s Shaarei Tsedek synagogue and social Club Union. He was fascinated by our community early on. A successful documentary producer and director, he is now completing a film project on the Shtetl in the Caribbean. At the link above, there is a clip of some scenes shot so far in Bukovina, Belarus and Israel.”