Guest Co Host: Monica Rosales Director of DocMiami.org
The Lion of Judah (2012), a documentary written and directed by Matt Mindell, tells the story of Holocaust survivor Leo Zisman. Hoping that his horrific suffering can help the next generation better understand what happened, Zisman leads a group of young adults on a journey back to Poland and through humanity’s darkest period. Inspired by the strength of Leo, The Lion of Judah’s powerful message encourages viewers to remember the past and use it to change the world for the better. In film, the group retraces the tragic path Zisman was forced to travel, from the Warsaw Ghetto where he was separated from his family to the Stutthof concentration camp. From there he was sent to Auschwitz, where he survived the war. The group visits Majdanek and other concentration camps throughout Poland. Woven within the context of Leo’s tragedy, the film features trip participants who speak of their own search for answers and identity. Eric Gorenstein, whose father was a concentration camp survivor. Young Poles are also asked their opinions of Jews and the Holocaust, some sadly unchanged from their parents and grandparents deep-rooted anti-Semitic feelings. As the film analyzes viewpoints, it is discovered that the Holocaust is not a thing of the past. Mindell, the Executive Director of the Jewish Enrichment Center in Manhattan, was a producer of The Lion of Judah along with Joe Kavitski, who also served as a cinematographer on the trip. Kavitski, a non-Jew, was so moved by his experience that he has since taught middle school students in the United States about the Holocaust.