Archive for the ‘The Ripple Project: One’ Category

A Lesson in Civility: Courtesy of Frederick Terna

Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to an art opening of one of the most talented, absurdly under-recognized, smartest and kindest person I know, Fred Terna (Recent BOMB article on Fred). On it’s own, this is already an exciting enough event. The fact that Fred’s important, and rarely seen in public, work being exhibited in a formal space is a great gift. Add to that, the chance to see and hear Fred in person and you get a night to remember. Speaking to Fred, one always faces an opportunity to hear words of enlightenment. Which, just like his art, are filled with secret textures, meanings and colors that are not immediately apparent, it’s an effect that is both illuminating and sometimes confusing. This is a feeling I’m very familiar with, one I felt multiple times while working on the film I made about Fred (Shared Memory). I started The Ripple Project with a pre-conceived notion of how to portray the social scar caused by trauma, particularly the Holocaust. As the project progressed I realized that in fact, it’s not a scar but rather an open wound.

This idea started to crystallize after spending a few days with Fred. As, so many times with him, you learn that things are not always as they appear. Fred’s words and art gave rise to the idea of fluidity of memory and acceptance of inevitability. He proudly, shows me two, seemingly, completely different paintings. He explained to me that the two are of the same horrifying event he witnessed during the Holocaust. The abstract paintings were painted in different eras, nearly thirty years apart, and their stark difference of color, brush stokes and composition reflects the way the “feeling” towards the memory has changed. The most recent of the two paintings is poignantly labeled: “Shared Memory.”

An idea, that might have been instinctively present in my subconscious has been put on display in front of my eye so clearly. A memory of an event, as horrific now as it was then, but the artist’s attitude towards the memory of the event has drastically changed. Memory is fluid; constantly shifting and moving.

The other revelation I had while working with Fred, was an acceptance of the inevitable. On the last day of the shoot, Fred dropped a verbal “bombshell;” He proclaimed, with pride, that had he been given the opportunity, he would not have chosen a more “ordinary” life. According to Fred, had his life been an “ordinary” one, he would have ended up as a: “Crotchety old university professor for historical geography or geographical history.” Fred has no anger, no remorse, no regrets, life has a forward momentum that needs to be lived and experienced with all its twists and turns. My first instinct was one of disbelief, why would someone “choose” to go through the pain, suffering and loss that Fred experienced? My skepticism turned to understanding, when I later heard this idea echo through the words of another grand personality I interviewed (Itzhak Arad). It’s the journey taken which creates the rich tapestry of life which makes it all worth while. This is a profoundly human and humane idea.  It’s these conversations with Fred which helped me see and deal with the trauma of loss from the Holocaust, in a different way, including lessons applicable to my own life.

So when I saw Fred last week, I was hesitant about asking any questions, concerned this is not the time or place to search for “pearls of wisdom” which would again add a whole new dimension to my take on the Holocaust. But, thinking and doing are two different matters and considering these opportunities are far apart the moment just begs for a question to be asked. This was a special evening for Fred. He was outside of his studio, surrounded by his work lovingly hung for people to enjoy (rare) and smartly curated by his son Daniel, who’s an accomplished artist in his own right (http://www.danielterna.com). The place was full of friends, loved ones and admirers, just begging for another chance to see and speak to Fred, who was in top form, but visibly tired. After we embraced and chatted about mutual work, out of the blue, I asked a simple, even banal question: “What do you think about the election…?” I don’t know why I asked him this question or what I was expecting the answer to be. I just really wanted to know what Fred thought. The election left people on both sides of the aisle confused, angry, bitter, frightened and suspicious of each other. It exposed the sharp divide in American society and revealed the thin wires which hold it together. As a person who tells stories of genocide it left me scared that once again, irrational fear and anger can shatter a fragile society. Fred smiled at me, the kind of smile that says “you asked for it kid…”

He closed his eyes for second, as he often does before he begins to speak, as if to enhance the drama. Tilting his head right and with a wry smile said: “I’m disappointed, confused, and surprised but not worried. Dictators don’t last, it’s against human nature. We just need to keep our civility.” I looked at Fred with puzzled eyes, where was the anger? The fire? So I followed up with another question: “Civility? At this time? Who cares about that? People are angry now.”

Fred responded in a deeper tone, the smile was gone: “When we were in the camps, facing death, humiliation, starvation, anger, not knowing if we will live another 10 minutes… we still kept our civility. We always knew the Nazis wouldn’t last, it’s against human nature. It doesn’t matter what the Nazis did to us, how much they screamed and yelled at us. When we were alone in the room, at night, we were civilized. We knew that our civility is the key to survival, our humanity and civility will outlast the Nazis. It might take a month, a year or ten, but it will outlast them.”

Fred did it again, in three sentences he was able to refine, and perhaps redefine my perception of civilization and humanity in a time of crisis. It allowed me to put my fear, anger and confusion in check. It’s not just about the survival of the body, but one of soul, this is a lesson that transcends something larger than our imagination, as the Holocaust, but is also valid in our everyday struggles.

That night I went home, hugged sarit, the kids and found some serenity.

Reconsolidation: Winner of the 9th Imagine Science Film Festival

After an amazing sold out show, I’m proud to announce Reconsolidation is the winner of 2 festival awards; Authorea Scientist Award and the Audience Choice Award.
We have now started production on our next film in the series

isf-ripple-2016-720p

Read more about Reconsolidation

The Star of David

“The Star of David” is the 4th episode of The Ripple Project: ONE series.

David Bradley, series one, the ripple project, episode 4

“…turns out my teacher at the Kabbalah Center was in Germany during the war. I’ve been told I was too. have I shared that with you? I was in the resistance. A boy. Used to deliver food. May have been before my bar mitzvah. Wouldn’t be surprised if my teachers and I died in the camps.” – David Bradley

This is David Bradley, a lauded creative director in advertising, a contemporary Brooklyn father, a survivor in the rigor of modern New York life, but David is also a detective. An observation made by a respected teacher has turned David on a pursuit of his indirect past, looking for a former life that is spiritually connected to the one he’s living in now. The film follows David as he tries to decipher the clues of a trauma not just from another time but from another past.

 

Project Status: In early stages of production

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In memory of Walter Schaffir: “Floating with Walter”

In memory of Walter Schaffir 1921-2016,

watler

 

The Ripple Project has been, to put it mildly, a war of attrition on my soul. During my 5 years with the project I have seen with my eyes, heard with my ears and felt in my chest the pain and loss so many have suffered. Yet, I did not start this venture because I specifically wanted to learn about pain and its’ direct effect, I wanted to explore the after-effect of the trauma. The “ripple” of trauma is what has constantly catches me off guard, I have seen it pass through time, generations, cultures and even dimensions.

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Episode Five: Mirrors

Mirrors is the 5th episode in The Ripple Project: ONE Series.

A friend’s reflection reveals more than a looking glass.

Renowned artist and clandestine Holocaust art scholar Marc Dennis interviews survivor Dina Jacobson, whose tranquil facade betrays an incomprehensible knowledge. Set in the bucolic village of Elmira in upstate New York, Marc’s inquisitive nature and Dina’s furtive life are revealed and reflected upon through days of frenzied conversation and the knowing silence of friends. Dina is one of six survivors interviewed by Marc, each story more complex and unique than the one before…

Filmmaker Liron Unreich follows Marc, as both artist attempt to create a multi-media musuem installation based on these six interviews. A journey that will take them across the United States and the Atlantic. As each survivor shares his or hers life and precious days, the two artists try to capture an enduring portrait of survival, spirit, strength and inspiration to be shared with generations to come.

 

Dina Jackobson

 

 

Portrait of Holocaust survivor Dina J. by artist Marc Dennis

Portrait of Holocaust survivor Dina J. by artist Marc Dennis

Project Status: In early stages of production

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The Ripple Project ONE Promo 2012

Like a stone dropped into a pond, the Shoah created ripples. Radiating outward through the lives of individuals and communities, each one contains a story that continues to impact our lives. The Ripple Project:One is a film consisting of six 20-minute chapters, each documenting the lives of ordinary people living the ripple effect of extraordinary circumstances.

The film will introduce audiences to a sharp-minded poet in Maryland who has dedicated his life to recording the stories of fellow Shoah survivors; a grandfatherly painter in Brooklyn whose art provided a means of expressing, processing and sharing experiences beyond words; a New York-based Holocaust scholar and artist who visits a Jerusalem-based painter, survivor and friend hoping to encounter a living example of the courage of clandestine artists in the camps; a Rwandan genocide survivor documenting her journey as she seeks out the wisdom and guidance from a fading generation of Holocaust survivors; a Terezin survivor and star of the children’s opera Brundibar whose granddaughters in Florida who know little of their grandmother’s strength and nothing of her fame; A daughter discovers synchronicity between her scientific career and her father’s method of coping with his traumatic past.

While putting a human face on familiar, yet unfathomable, statistics, this character-driven narrative documentary highlights the multigenerational effect of genocide by giving audiences glimpses into the lives of survivors and their families living in communities much like our own in the United States, Europe and Israel. Each of the characters profiled conveys the responsibility of survivors and younger generations to pass on the lessons and experiences of the Shoah. Although the chapters are very much connected as present-day acts of historical remembrance, they are most basically human tales of the inheritance of creativity and the drive to share and preserve one’s own legacy and family story.

The Ripple Project: Reconsolidation Production in New York

This past Friday, The Ripple Project marked the end of production on “Reconsolidation” the story of neuroscientist Daniela Schiller’s personal and professional struggle with the legacy of the Holocaust, a journey, which grapples with the very notion of fear, and our ceaseless efforts to surmount it.

Directed by Liron Unreich and with cinematographer David Stragmeister, this past week and a half of shooting has featured Daniela’s groundbreaking research at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan alongside her talents as a storyteller and musician, her rocky-esque training as a kick boxer, and her ongoing experience as the daughter of a survivor.


We, at The Ripple Project eagerly await the fruit of out labors as “Reconsolidation” enters postproduction.

The Ripple Project: Reconsolidation Production in Israel

Director Liron Unreich and Producer Michael McDevitt have just returned from Israel after completing an exciting and revealing week of shooting The Ripple Project: One’s latest chapter with Cinematographer David Stragmeister.

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.
Please click here to learn more about “Reconsolidation” and The Ripple Project : One‘s exploration of the multigenerational effects of the Shoah.
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