See also: FILMS ON THE HOLOCAUST
The Jewish Journey: America
2014 NR. A film that tells the three part story of Jewish life in the old country, the reasons behind leaving their respective homes and journeying to the US and both the establishment of communities and the great accomplishments made in the US.
The Jewish Americans
Documentary Series 2007 TV-PG. In this televised miniseries, director David Grubin charts the ongoing struggles of Jewish Americans to find acceptance while honoring their culture — from their arrival in a fledgling New Amsterdam to prejudices that persist in the present day. Liev Schreiber narrates a centuries-long tale that includes interviews with the likes of Carl Reiner, Mandy Patinkin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sid Caesar and Abigail Van Buren (“Dear Abby”).
Documentary 2011 NR 1hr 31m. This documentary presents a first-person look inside the dark world of racist skinheads, but offers hope in the story of one man’s redemption.
Protocols of Zion
Documentary 2005 R 95 minutes. Filmmaker Marc Levin sets out to understand and challenge those who believe the Jews were responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center. This engrossing documentary explores the rapid growth of anti-Semitism since that tragic date and refutes the notion that a nefarious Jewish cabal orchestrated the attacks. Crisp, incisive and often humorous, this film delves into the dynamics of zealotry and hate.
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
Documentary 1998 PG. Henry “Hank” Benjamin Greenberg led the Detroit Tigers to pennant victory in 1934 amidst anti-Semitism sentiment in America. Along with being Detroit’s top hitter with a batting average of .339 in ’34, Greenberg came very close to breaking Babe Ruth’s 60-homerun record in ’38. Baseball’s first Jewish professional player is paid tribute by his Jewish and non-Jewish fans alike in this documentary of the heroic Tigers’ first baseman.
Documentary 2007 NR 1hr 35m. This documentary examines the history of anti-Semitism in the Catholic Church and the link between the U.S. military and the Christian right. From Constantine’s reign in the fourth century to today’s evangelical base at the Air Force Academy.
Drama 1947 NR 118 minutes. Enterprising reporter Phil Green (Gregory Peck), eager to blow the lid off anti-Semitism, accepts an assignment to pen a series of frank exposés for a progressive magazine. Looking for a new angle, Green poses as a Jew and soon endures the full spectrum of bigotry — from being denied a job and use of public facilities to his son suffering a beating. Little by little, the journalist comes to understand the cruel effects of prejudice.
Drama 1992 PG-13 107 minutes. David Greene, a working-class Jewish teen, receives a football scholarship to a prestigious prep school in the 1950s. But in favor of fitting in, he chooses to hide his religious heritage from his wealthy, prejudiced classmates. Everything is going well for David until one of the young men overhears an alumnus state his disdain for St. Matthews allowing a Jew into the school and David is ostracized. See Full Review
Drama 1999 R. “No Jews, dogs or coloreds,” reads the sign outside a public swimming pool in 1954 Baltimore. High school freshman Ben Kurtzman (Ben Foster) and friends find themselves confronted with anti-Semitism, racism and coming of age in a fast-changing world. The story, which is set in the 1950’s finds the boys confined by their closely-knit Jewish community. Both sons, in their own way, struggle to understand the restrictions and the restraints posed by anti-Semitic barriers, racial discrimination and elitism. Writer-director and Baltimore memorialist Barry Levinson takes viewers on a sentimental journey, complete with period details and wry humor.
Documentary 2008 NR 91 minutes. In addition to gathering thoughts from political scientist Norman Finkelstein, filmmaker Yoav Shamir examines contemporary anti-Semitism and the possibility of a modern-day Jewish holocaust in his incisive documentary. Surprisingly amusing and unquestionably thought-provoking, Shamir also profiles other figures such as Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman and explores topics such as Israel’s influence on American foreign policy.
Documentary 2011 NR. Exploring anti-Semitism in Europe, North America and Israel, filmmaker Gloria Greenfield makes the case that anti-Jewish ideology is on the rise. Interviews feature U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman and attorney Alan Dershowitz, among others.
Documentary 2004 G 82 minutes. Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee is the setting for this documentary about an extraordinary experiment in Holocaust education. Struggling to grasp the concept of 6 million Holocaust victims, the students decide to collect 6 million paper clips.
The Passion of the Christ
Docudrama 2004 R 127 minutes. Oscar-winning actor-director Mel Gibson helms this controversial epic that focuses on the last 12 hours of Jesus’s life — from the betrayal, trial and death of Jesus to his brutal crucifixion and resurrection from the tomb. Starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Maia Morgenstern as Jesus’s mother and Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene, The Passion is spoken entirely in Latin and Aramaic, and the violent Crucifixion scenes are incredibly graphic. It has been called “the most virulently anti-Semitic movie made since the German propaganda films of World War II.”
An American Tragedy
Documentary American Experience 2000 NR 90 minutes. When two white women accused nine black teenagers of raping them on an Alabama train in 1931, their claims set off a chain reaction that eventually reached the Supreme Court — and launched the modern-day Civil Rights movement. Shot over five years on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, this fascinating installment of the “American Experience” series dissects the particulars of the case through the words of those who lived it, including the anti-semitism directed at the defense attorney. See Full Review
America and the Holocaust
Documentary American Experience 1994 NR 90 minutes. Hal Linden narrates this documentary about America’s response to the Holocaust prior to entering World War II. The film examines the overlying social and political factors and follows the story of Kurt Klein, who fled Nazi Germany only to find that the United States didn’t care what happened to his parents. The State Department stalled the visa process for thousands of Jews until 1944, when Henry Morgenthau forced Roosevelt to reverse the policy. This documentary is a firm reminder of how slanted and overtly racist US immigration policy has been since it’s inception. Similar themes of job loss, cultural preservation, and national security that are used today in reaction to Mexican immigration were evoked against Jews and eastern Europeans then. Very eye-opening. I knew the US turned a blind eye to the Holocaust, but I never realized the extent. I believe every citizen should see this movie to open their eyes to the anti-semitism broiling in this country to the point that millions of Jews died as a result. The message of the movie was that we could have helped and should have before we finally did.
The Life of Emile Zola
Docudrama 1937 NR 116 minutes. Paul Muni stars as French writer and social activist Emile Zola in a biopic that won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (snagged by Joseph Schildkraut, who plays Capt. Alfred Dreyfus).The film tracks Zola through his friendship with Paul Cezanne (Vladimir Sokoloff), his efforts to expose social ills that plagued France’s lower classes, and his battle against the anti-Semitic scapegoating of Dreyfus.
HITLER’S PROPAGANDA FILMS
Documentary 2005 NR 72 minutes. This feature of footage from World War II, delves into Theresienstadt, a “show camp” the Nazis used to mask their true intentions for the Jews they’d begun arresting throughout Europe. Theresienstadt. Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet (English: Terezin: A Documentary Film from the Jewish Settlement Area) was a black-and-white projected Nazi propaganda film shot in the concentration camp of Theresienstadt. In the summer of 1944, the Nazi government had perpetrated a hoax against the Danish Red Cross by taking them on a tour of the Theresienstadt concentration camp in the occupied Czech Republic. They “beautified” and cleaned the camp prior to arrival and arranged cultural activities to give the appearance of a happy, industrious community. To cover up the endemic overpopulation of the camp, numerous inmates were deported to Auschwitz before the arrival of the Red Cross delegation. The gimmick was so successful that SS commander Hans Günther attempted to expand on it by having Kurt Gerron, a Jewish actor-director, make a short film about the camp to assure audiences that the inmates kept there were not being abused. In return, the Nazis promised that he would live. Shooting took 11 days, starting September 1, 1944. Shortly after Gerron finished shooting the film, however, both he and other cast members were “evacuated” to Auschwitz, where they were gassed upon arrival. The film was intended to be shown in neutral countries to counter Allied news reports about the persecution of Jews. Influential organisations such as the International Red Cross and the Vatican would be given screenings. However, the progress of the war in late 1944 to early 1945 made that impossible. After an initial screening in early April 1945 to senior members of the government and SS, there were a few other screenings to international humanitarian groups in Theresienstadt in April 1945. Further distribution was halted by the defeat of Germany. The film was mostly destroyed, but about 20 minutes of sequences from it have survived.
In the Shadow of Jew Süss
Documentary 2008 NR 99 minutes. Documentarian Felix Moeller profiles one of Nazi Germany’s most notorious — yet largely forgotten — filmmakers in this penetrating biographical portrait of Veit Harlan, best known for directing the anti-Semitic 1940 propaganda film Jew Süss. Rare footage sheds light on Harlan’s method and motivations, but interviews with his descendents reveal conflicted emotions about his tainted cinematic legacy.
The Eternal Jew
(Der ewige Jude)
Propaganda 1940. The Eternal Jew (1940) is an antisemitic German Nazi propaganda film, presented as a documentary. It has been characterized as “surely the most hideous success of the anti-Semitic films” made during the Nazi era. The film’s title in German is Der ewige Jude, the German term for the character of the “Wandering Jew” in medieval folklore. The film consists of feature and documentary footage combined with materials filmed shortly after the Nazi occupation of Poland. At this time Poland’s Jewish population was about three million, roughly ten percent of the total population.
Link to view The Eternal Jew
Triumph of the Will
Documentary 1934 NR 120 minutes. Leni Riefenstahl’s infamous propaganda film documenting the Third Reich’s 1934 Nuremberg Party Rally features a cast of thousands — including Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, Rudolf Hess, Hermann Goering and other top officials. Images of cheering crowds, precision marching, military bands, banners lining Nuremberg’s streets and Hitler’s climactic speech illustrate with chilling clarity how Germany fell under his spell.
The Eye of Vichy
Documentary 1993 NR 110 minutes. Directed by French filmmaker Claude Chabrol, this documentary examines Nazi and Vichy newsreels and propaganda films from World War II meant to turn the French against the Jews and the Allied Forces and into Nazi sympathizers. Chabrol deftly probes how the media was used to manipulate the French, and asks how history’s outcome could have been different had the enemies succeeded.
See also: FILMS ON THE HOLOCAUST
HISTORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
A People’s History
Documentary 2009 NR 265 minutes. Exploring 4,000 years in the history of the Jews — from their ancient roots in the Middle East all the way to modern-day Judaism — this exhaustivedocumentary weaves stories from the past and present to reveal a rich tapestry of Jewish identity. Seeking to represent the diversity of the Jewish people, director Nina Koshofer’s ambitious film spotlights Jews both rich and poor, famed and obscure.
The Jewish People:
A Story of Survival
Documentary 2008 NR. Journalist Martha Teichner traces the history of the Jewish people, explaining how this vibrant culture has endured and thrived despite more than 4,000 years of slavery, oppression, anti-Semitism and near-genocide. Historical photos, rare documents and interviews with noted scholars serve to illuminate how the Jews survived for centuries — while other communities vanished — under the Babylonians, Romans, Nazis, Russians and other cruel regimes.
Must-See Movies—For What You Need to Know
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