Media Advisory: Wake Forest University and United Nations team for special documentary screening

A new documentary from Wake Forest University’s Documentary Film Program and The Documentary Institute at the University of Florida will teach teens around the world about the Holocaust through the imagination and real life experiences of a boy from Prague who died in Auschwitz at age 16.

The Last Flight of Petr Ginz”, will have a special screening at United Nations Headquarters in New York City on January 25, 2012 – as part of the International Day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust observance events. The film highlights Petr’s creativity and the vivid artwork he produced despite being surrounded by death.

“This is a child who lived in his mind,” said Sandy Dickson, co-director of the documentary film program and the film’s co-director. “He was driven by his imagination and his intellectual curiosity. But his work reaches me at an emotional level. When you look at his artwork, you see the ghetto, stark and grim. But then you also have fanciful sailing ships and whimsical flying machines.“

Petr Ginz spent two years in the ghetto and transit camp of Terezin. Not only did he keep a diary, starting in 1941, but he also wrote five novels and created more than 170 illustrations and paintings. He also established and led an underground magazine and resistance newspaper with the boys in his barracks.

“The way Wake Forest filmmakers used animation and music to tell the story of Petr Ginz, employing his artwork and diary to illustrate his short life, makes Petr’s narrative accessible to students,” said Kimberly Mann, manager of the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme. “We have partnered with the university and the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem to produce a 32-page companion study guide so students ages 13 and up will learn this history, about the UN and the importance of defending human rights around the world ”.

The study guide will be available in the six official languages of the UN, and the film will be distributed to the global network of UN information centers in 63 countries for special screenings and educational programs with students.

Dickson and the film crew not only used Petr’s artwork and account of his time in Terezin, but also traveled to Israel to interview his sister, Chava Pressburger, whose book “The Diary of Petr Ginz” inspired their project. Pressburger also spent time at Terezin with her brother.

“We were pulled in by her incredible love for Petr,” Dickson said. “On many levels it’s a love story between a brother and a sister.”

The UN special screening on January 25 features a panel of speakers including Sandy Dickson, co-director Churchill Roberts of The Documentary Institute at the University of Florida, Yoram Pressburger, Petr’s nephew, Leo Lowy, a Holocaust survivor of the Terezin Ghetto and childhood friend of Petr Ginz, along with UN Ambassador Edita Hrda of the Czech Republic and UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, Kiyo Akasaka. It is open to the public.

Other special screenings are planned in Jerusalem, Vienna and Canberra, Australia on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2012.

“The Last Flight of Petr Ginz” is not yet available to the public. The film is produced by the Documentary Film Program at Wake Forest University and The Documentary Institute at the University of Florida. It is about to begin its film festival run, starting with the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in February 2012.

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About the Wake Forest University Documentary Film Program

Wake Forest’s Documentary Film Program provides an inspiring and challenging environment for aspiring filmmakers who want to learn how to craft powerful documentaries. Offering students an MA or MFA in documentary production, the program is led by faculty with a proven track record of providing students with the critical and technical skills needed to shape their creative visions into compelling, award-winning and socially significant documentary films.

About Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at www.wfu.edu.

About the United Nations Holocaust Program

With resolution 60/7, the General Assembly established the Holocaust Program in 2006 to encourage education about and remembrance of the Holocaust so as to help prevent future genocide.  Its multifaceted programme includes online and print educational products, events, a film series and the worldwide observance of the International Day each January 27th.   For more information, please visit www.un.org/holocaustremembrance.

Stephanie Skordas, skordas@nullwfu.edu, 336.758.3826

Categories: Media Advisory