Sunday, May 4, 2014

Walking with the Enemy

Days after seeing Walking with the Enemy I'm still talking about it, and for me - that's the sign of a good movie.

I'm a fan of stories.
People's stories.

And Pinchaus Rosenbaum has an amazing one...

"Pinchas Rosenbaum was the teenaged son of the rabbi of Kisvárda, Hungary. His parents, like many older Hungarians, thought nothing would happen to them after the Nazis invaded, but Pinchas knew better, and escaped to Budapest. He was a master of disguise, extremely convincing as SS officers, high-ranking members of the Arrow Cross, and even government official István Lukasz. During the final year of the war, he literally saved thousands of people, constantly risking death to confront the Nazis and to bring these people back to a huge ever-expanding safe house."

(Weird, but, Peter Parker reminds me of Pinchaus (I saw Spiderman recently) ... an unlikely young hero who saves people by disguising himself with a costume. A teenager who ended up in dangerous situations he had no training for. A young man who stepped up and made a difference, risking his life repeatedly.)(Yeah, I just did that. I compared Spiderman to Elek Cohen, the character inspired by Pinchaus Rosenbaum.)


Back in 2003, the documentary, Unlikely Heroes, was produced:

"Unlikely Heroes", narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley, highlights 7 previously unknown stories of extraordinary men and women who exemplified the highest levels of courage and human dignity during the most desperate days of the Holocaust.

A real estate developer named Mark Schmidt from San Diego apparently saw the documentary and was fascinated with the seventh story -  Pinchaus's story. He investigated further and was convinced this was a story that needed to be told to a broader audience. So he and his friend, Randy Williams went to UCLA Film School on weekends to learn how to make and market a movie.
(Hahaha. I am in awe of that. Seriously. You have no idea. To just decide, mid-way through life, to go to school to learn something specific. To take a chance on a whole new career direction? From developing real estate to producing movies... That, to me, is inspiring.)

Liberty Studios is the result of their new education and burning desire to tell stories:
Liberty Studios is a film production company based in San Diego, California. Founder and President, Mark Schmidt’s mission is to deliver inspirational true stories to a worldwide audience. The company’s focus is the triumph of the human spirit over incredible odds, to celebrate outstanding individuals and their accomplishments, past and present.

And Walking with the Enemy is the first story they're telling:

Walking with the Enemy is an indie film. Which means, I guess, looking in, that marketing and distribution are challenging. Theatres don't automatically want to show your movie just because you've finished making it. I've been watching, via the internet, how they've gone about spreading the word. There's a facebook page, a twitter account, film festival showings, private screenings, all culminating in a limited release that took place in 258 theatres in the US on April 25.

After reading every review posted to the web, I drove to Seattle last Saturday to watch it. To be honest, I didn't have high expectations. Jewish and Christian reviewers loved it, (Christian? Where did that come from?) but others? Reviews were mixed.

(Coincidently, while Mark and Randy were marketing their movie, FOTF was getting ready for the one day showing of it's movie: Irreplaceable in theatres on May 6/7. I was surprised to see Christian sites reviewing/supporting both movies. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in North America who's been following them both with interest. (Irreplaceable because my team was designing/preparing the creative assets for marketing, and WWTE because of Jonas.) I certainly didn't expect to see them linked elsewhere, outside of my head and on the internet. Haha.)

So, anyway, I drove to Seattle to see the movie with a friend. I've watched all the trailers and clips, read all the reviews, followed and liked all the social media pages, so I knew what to expect. My friend? Had no idea what to anticipate. And I could hear her beside me responding to the images/storyline with gasps and groans ...

We talked about the movie the whole drive back to Canada. The story, the acting, the war, the Holocaust, the Nazi deaths afterwards, heroes, Jonas, Mark, Randy, Pinchaus, our children's generation, film making, story telling -  Nothing like two women with nothing but time and a topic on their hands.

I recommend this movie.
... because we need to support studios that are committed to telling inspiring stories. Because we can't forget the Holocaust. Because this is our history, those that lived through WW2 won't be around much longer to tell their tales. Because our sons and daughters need real life hereos, not just the Marvel ones. And because it is a good movie. The acting, the script, the visuals, the sound, etc, are all well done. It's a story of courage and bravery and loss and war. It's real. And it matters.

See it if you get a chance.
And clear some time to talk about it afterwards.


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