One of the advantages of virtual festival is the same advantage streaming services have over now old-school broadcast TV, which offers one-time programs available only at a specified time.
While you watch our festival films on your own schedule, as you would with Netflix, you also benefit from the virtual festival’s ability to access a stellar list of international guests who could never converge in Boulder for an in-person event.
Our esteemed tribute guest Pierre Sauvage not only agreed to spend the week with us, and to discuss the entirety of his work with our audience, but also to invite special guest speakers to comment on his films – contacts acquired over his 40-year career as a filmmaker and Holocaust authority.
In a first for the festival, we are offering three recorded talkback conversations that can be viewed any time after watching the film. These three, hour-long bonus programs not only shed light of the subjects at hand, but also serve as highly relevant discussions by experts of current issues in Jewish life.
The prestigious guest list solicited by Pierre produced an incredibly high-level caliber of conversation, highlighting pressing issues raised in each of the documentaries.
Novelist and literature professor Dara Horn (The World to Come) proves especially insightful discussing “Yiddish: The Mother Tongue” with leading Yiddishists that include The Forward’s Rukhl Schaechter, who currently offers a popular daily online Yiddish lesson. Also joining is academic and author David Fishman, the son of distinguished linguist Joshua Fishman, who was featured prominently in Pierre’s 1979 exploration of Yiddish language and culture. Another original participant in the film, Richard Silverstein, also enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the evolution of Yiddish over the last 40 years.
Martin Sheen is an impressively knowledgeable speaker, addressing the subject of Christians and the Holocaust in the morally probing discussion of “We Were There,” alongside no less than the noted scholar Susannah Heschel, whose father Abraham Joshua Heschel famously marched with Martin Luther King – just as Sheen was discovering activism through the Civil Rights movement.
Christian Holocaust scholar John Roth and leading light of Jewish wisdom, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, also lend perspective to the painful history. There’s a sense of lived history among the guests in this challenging assessment of the positive role played by individual Christian rescuers versus the negative role played by the church.
The daughter of Peter Bergson, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Professor Rebecca Kook, could not be a more perfect guest to discuss Pierre’s recent biography, “Not Idly By: Peter Bergson, America and the Holocaust.” Yet she too was joined by equally authoritative figures who appreciate the uncomfortable legacy of Peter Bergson and its importance to American Jewish life. Scholar Laurel Leff, author “Buried by the Times—The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper,” and writer David Samuels, Literary Editor of Tablet Magazine, offer vital context as well as a contemporary perspective.
I strongly urge our festival audience to consider taking advantage of this unique opportunity to watch these important films and fascinating taped talkbacks. They are the best that a virtual fest has to offer.
And please plan to join us for a live Q&A with Pierre Sauvage about all his work, including the remastered 30th anniversary edition of “Weapons of the Spirit,” at our culminating event on Sunday, March 21 at 3 pm.