WESTWOOD. Here’s my video reflecting on the evening.
The film is a feature-length documentary that tells the remarkable, yet previously untold story of thousands of young Jewish immigrants who fled Germany and Austria in the early days of Hitler’s regime, only to perform an "about face" returning to confront their oppressors as American GI’s and British Tommie’s in WWII.
"About Face" does not focus on the camps, the ghetto uprisings or the victimization of the Jewish people. Instead, it depicts the uniquely powerful and unexpected experiences of the Jewish refugees-turned soldiers, who fought with distinction in the US and Allied Armed Forces as combat infantrymen, paratroopers, and interrogators in counter intelligence and military intelligence positions.
The film features interviews with these veterans, who as native German speakers and former German and Austrian nationals, had knowledge of the language and the culture, which proved invaluable in combat, counter-intelligence and the interrogation of prisoners. Each story represents a broad spectrum of experiences and emotions, traversing between fear and revenge, acceptance and betrayal, gratitude and forgiveness, not to mention the moral ambiguity felt by many of these veterans reflecting on returning to fight the countries their families had once called home.
Their stories are ones of heartbreak, courage and ultimately, the triumph of the human spirit. In addition to the film, we have also created an archive to record and preserve the stories of the more than 200 veterans we have interviewed to date. Among those interviewed for the film are humanitarian and author Kurt Klein and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as well as commentary by renowned author of "Piercing the Reich," Joseph Persico and historian, film producer and the former president of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, Dr. Michael Berenbaum reflecting on the efforts of these refugees-turned-soldiers and their unique experiences.
I sat near Steve’s mom during the screening and met a bunch of his friends (a bunch of hotties, all taken). Numerous WWII veterans came and the average age of the 150 people in the audience was about 50.
The movie should show on PBS in a few months.
Steve’s worked on the thing for nine years, going broke several times in the process and getting fired from the worst jobs include pool cloth cutter and shoe salesman at Nordstroms (he was fired last week!).
American Body Shop (Comedy Central) star Jill Bartlett — alas O Israel, she’s a shiksa — came to the screening with her boyfriend. She wore smashing black french lace stockings and very little else. It was the most excitement Sinai Temple has had since that hushed-up freebasing fire in the basement (just kidding!).
Jill got a lot of dirty looks from the women but all the men thought she rocked. She’s hilarious. She hated my camera. She didn’t know what a blog was. She didn’t know why I wanted to put pictures of her on my blog. I almost got stoned in the holy temple for my wicked wicked ways with the camera of death.
Jill performs (thought not in temples) with an improv group called "The Dry Humpers." She also has a key role in "Ghostf——-." I wasn’t able to get all the details on this because we were in a shul and others indicated to me it was not an appropriate topic of conversation.
I’m sure glad other people set boundaries on me otherwise who knows what mischief I’d fall into.
Jill Bartlett plays Denise, the repair shop’s beleaguered receptionist in the edgy new COMEDY CENTRAL series, "American Body Shop."
Bartlett was raised in Highland, Indiana and attended Valparaiso University on a softball scholarship. (She plays a mean shortstop). After graduating with a degree in communications and theater, she moved to Chicago where she studied at Second City and Improv Olympic. She performed in numerous stage productions, including a lead role in "The Vagina Monologues" at The Apollo Theater.
Upon moving to Los Angeles, Bartlett joined the sketch comedy troupe, "Dry Hump." The cast includes many of her old Chicago friends. Notable television appearances include NBC’s "Las Vegas," Lifetime’s "Lovespring International" and MTV’s "Punk’d."
Jill prepares to take the Torah from the ark on a Sunday night.