Brundibár – Type of Project

Brundibár: Beyond Imagination aims to create a new paradigm and standard for teaching and sharing the story and lessons of the Shoah, as well as provide a broader understanding of the multigenerational effects of genocide throughout the world. The project’s three overlapping initiatives are as follows:

Educational Summer Theatre Arts Program

The mission of the educational theatre arts program is to offer an experiential educational curriculum that explores Jewish culture and the experience/lessons of the Shoah and genocide through a three week program of lectures, exercises, interaction, discussion and action that speak to heritage, history, creativity and a proactive approach to social justice. 20-30 adolescents whom have experienced the second, and third generational effects of genocide and hailing from Israel, the United States, Rwanda and the Czech Republic.

Documentary Feature Film

We believe the best way to tell a story, and to change the future is through the voices, actions and revelations of children documented and presented on film. The documentary films Spellbound, Born into Brothels and Boys of Baraka illustrate prime examples of this success. The success of these films engaging storytelling through the eyes and stories of children has proven to be a powerful tool that speaks to the hearts and minds of a wide and varied audience. It is though these examples we believe Brundibár: Beyond Imagination will create a new paradigm that combines the personal relevance of educational and cause-focused children’s programs with socially relevant entertainment.

Interactive Educational Website

The ultimate goal of the Brundibár: Beyond Imagination website is to create a marketing and educational tool to support the Summer Theatre Arts Program and documentary film to promote understanding and practiced tolerance throughout the world while fighting the rising voice of Holocaust denial. Website content will offer users a link to lessons and experiences of lives once marginalized, lost or forgotten as well as those just emerging by presenting them within an online library and interactive stage of video, words, pictures and audio.

Brundibár – Synopsis

Over a three week period in July of 2011, 20-30 children from around the world will be invited to participate in a Summer Theatre Arts Program that will carry them through the grounds of Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem museum to the former ghetto of Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. This group of adolescents — descendants of Theresienstadt’s child survivors paired with second-generation survivors of genocide from Africa — will participate in a program modeled after Theresienstadt’s fabled mentors such as Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Alice Hertz Sommër, Rudy Freudenfeld and Freddy Hirsh. The program will offer workshops, rehearsals and projects led by world accomplished mentors from the fields of writing, art and theatre as well as survivors themselves to culminate with an original interpretation of the children’s opera, Brundibár, to celebrate a victory of culture and art that was targeted for annihilation over 70 years ago. The project’s documentary feature film will capture the pressures, relationships and personalities that emerge as this group of children consider their unique personal histories and discover their talents within the Brundibár production. While the Summer Theatre Arts Program, as a forum of discovery, creativity and interpersonal connection, is to be conceived and created for the benefit of the child participants, specifically, the resulting Brundibár: Beyond Imagination documentary feature film and website will reach out to a broad, multigenerational audience throughout the world to share a relevant and meaningful message of understanding, responsibility and tolerance for generations to come.

Episode One: The Binding of Isaac

“Binding of Isaac” is the 1st episode of The Ripple Project: ONE series.

A friendship born in shared survival is given new life in the poetry of remembrance.

Nearly two decades ago, 16-year-old Liron Unreich filmed his grandfather, poet and writer Isaac Ginzburg, as he opened up about the atrocities he experienced during the Holocaust. Just three years later, Isaac died of kidney failure, likely resulting from an intentional overdose. Liron sits down with his grandfather’s dearest friend, Herman Taube, the 92-year-old writer who has dedicated his life to chronicling survivors’ stories through his poetry, and shows him the old footage of Isaac.

While watching his friend candidly share his painful experiences, Herman reflects on the synchronicity between his life and Isaac’s and the vastly different ways the two men dealt with the tragedy they had both experienced.


Project Status: Completed

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Mirrors (RP1)

“Reflection of Dignity”

– These words echo throughout the whole Mirrors, an exhibit of six large format portraits by artist Marc Dennis and complementing videos, by filmmaker Liron Unreich, of the faces, voices and stories of six Holocaust survivors. The exhibit hall is divided into 6 equally sized and connected chambers where each video and painted portrait reflect each other. Centered around the potency of dialogue between the past and present, silence and sound, the exhibit aims to transport, enlighten and inform, serving as a modern day memorial while offering an evocative and contemporary approach to the conventions of Holocaust and genocide documentary.

Mirrors employs the spirit of reflection to capture images and fleeting moments through painted and video portraits that beckon the viewer to face those who faced history, survived and lived beyond our imagination. The paintings and videos serve not only to reflect one another in scope and dimensions but also that of the viewer, who is given the opportunity to consider his/her own understanding of self under the watchful gaze and voice of the survivor. The exhibition in its entirety also serves as a looking glass into issues of personal history, memory and perception — reminding us of how history affects our lives as well as how our lives compose history.

The six, large format paintings of each survivor’s face pulse with life-like candor. Measuring approximately 60w x 36w inches, they are painted in full color, with extraordinary attention to detail, delineating each wrinkle, line, and tone. Each survivor looks directly out from the plane of the canvas, their eyes nearly reflecting the viewers themselves. Emotions are revealed in every brush stroke: loss, anger, tempered joy and dignity. Without further context, the viewer connects with the survivor, transcends the surface of the canvas, and calls upon the experience of the individual, and our humanity.

Juxtaposed with the paintings are the video portraits, reflecting the painted canvases both in size, composition, and detail. They appear silent at first but become audible as the viewer approaches the projection: the survivor’s voice grows clearer and stronger while telling their story. A trembling lip, a raspy voice, and a sparkle in the eyes begin to entrance the viewer and enhance the narrative. With a few carefully chosen words and facial gestures the videos create a sense familiarity, one which combined with the infinite intimacy of the paintings, forms a unique art experience which tells a personal narrative of a horrific past, a triumphant present and an honorable future.

Mirrors is a monument for the living, a remembrance for those who will soon be taken by time, and a memorial to those who perished. Our project recognizes that we are at a crossroads of history, one at which the lives of those who are still with us must be captured, contextualized and reflected for future generations whose gaze has yet to look into this mirror — with the dignity of respect for those who not only survived, but lived.

Bridges

A Rwandan genocide survivor documents her journey as she seeks out the wisdom and guidance from a fading generation of Holocaust survivors.

Today Eugenie Mukeshimana travels the Eastern United States to engage the voices of a dwindling population of Holocaust survivors — and to open her ears to the elusive knowledge and remarkable revelation of lives long lived beyond the unthinkable. Seventeen years ago in Rwanda, with her husband lost and five months pregnant, she spent a month hiding under the bed of an disinclined protector. Escaping death with luck and a belief in possibility,Eugenie landed in New Jersey with her infant daughter to find a Rwandan diaspora in shock and willful denial. Coming from a culture largely defined by its oral traditions, she was confounded by this profound inability to proactively engage the tragedies of a not so distant past. Unable to make sense of the senseless, plagued by her own changing memory, and burdened with the question of how to share her story with a maturing daughter, Eugenie turned to Holocaust survivors to begin a conversation of understanding, responsibility and life to be spoken across tables, oceans, cultures and generations.

Read more about The Ripple Project: One: Here

Episode Three: Reconsolidation

“Reconsolidation” is the 3rd episode of The Ripple Project: ONE series.

A daughter discovers synchronicity between her scientific career and her father’s method of coping with his traumatic past“Reconsolidation” begins with a clinical look into a neurological experiment as neuroscientist Dr. Daniela Schiller, labors to discover the key to rewriting fearful memories — reconsolidation. From Daniela’s research laboratory in New York she begins her personal search and returns to her native Israel to compel her elderly father to reveal his Holocaust remembrance for the first time. What follows is a haunting exploration into the nature of memory, its power, its vulnerability, its promise and its generational effect.

Interview with Dad

Interview with Dad

Driving to see Dad

Driving to see Dad

Daniela Schiller

The Siren

 

Daniela was recently featured on Studio 360 performing a monologue about her experience of being filmed by the Ripple Project. Listen to it here.

Read the New Yorker Magazine article about Daniela’s work and the film.

An interview with Daniela and Liron about the film and its related science:

Read the interview on Labocine Magazine

The film is an official selection and winner of the 2016 Imagine Science Film Festival in New York.

isf-ripple-2016-720p

Project Status: Completed

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Episode Six: Generations Apart

“Generations Apart” is the 6th episode of The Ripple Project: ONE series.

A grandmother’s story inspires countless strangers, but she struggles to share it with her own family.

Ela Stein Weissberger was 11-years-old when she landed the key role as “the cat” in the children’s opera, Brundibar, performed by and for Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Ela is the only performer alive today who acted in all 55 performances, and she continues to devote her life to telling the story of Theresienstadt throughout the United States and Europe. Generations Apart juxtaposes the lives of Ela’s granddaughters in Florida who are unaware of their grandmother’s role in the opera and the lengths to which she has gone to preserve the stories of those who did not survive.

Here is an early interview we conducted with Ela in her house

As Ela prepares for a lecture at a Brundibar performance in Kansas, she wrestles with inviting her granddaughters to attend. Highlighting the natural human desire to share our pain and triumph with loved ones, Generations Apart is a glimpse into the simple complications which entangle a woman’s public life and family legacy.

Project Status: In early stages of pre-production

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Episode Two: Shared Memory

“Shared Memory” is the 2nd episode of The Ripple Project: ONE series.


Painting helps a man express horrors beyond words.

“This was. This is.” Brooklyn-based artist and Shoah survivor, Fred Terna, declares gesturing towards two paintings—one ominous and dark, the other lighter, with hues of hope. “This is how the memory changed.” Shared Memory is part oral history, part private gallery tour where Terna invites the viewer into his home and discusses pieces from his carefully catalogued collection spanning the history of his artwork. Together, the paintings and Terna’s stories describe his path from the Czech Republic to Brooklyn, from surviving Theresienstadt to his taxing marriage with a fellow survivor. In Shared Memory, Terna reveals how painting is both a way of coping with the horrors he has experienced and a means to preserve his memories.

WATCH: A conversation between Fred Terna and Rwandan genocide survivor and educator Eugenie Mukeshimana, which took place after a private screening of Shared Memory.

The following letter was written to Shared Memory Director and The Ripple Project Cofounder, Liron Unreich, by Fred Terna.
Dear Liron,
I’m awed and delighted with the film. You and your team have done a superb job, telling the story of my paintings. Other film-makers have tried to make films about art and artists during the Shoah. When they focused on me they somehow stayed on the surface, there was a distance, a gap, between my feelings and ideas and what I saw on the screen. You are telling the story with great skill and insight, and I thank you.

During the Shoah we promised each other that the one who survives will tell about it. The burden is getting heavier as our numbers decrease, and you and your group are carrying this obligation with us, and for us.

Please give my thanks to all who are working with you on The Ripple Project. Looking forward to hearing from you before long,

Fred

Project Status: Completed

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