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“I Am Here” Post-Film Discussion
Thursday, March 10, 2022 @ 1:00 pm EST
I Am Here – Documentary Ella Blumenthal is not your average 98-year-old. Her feisty and magnetic personality makes her past even more surprising. Follow this spirited South African Holocaust survivor as she reveals to her family her astonishing life journey and her unwavering appreciation of life.
A life-affirming documentary that celebrates the remarkable life of Ella Blumenthal. At her 98th birthday celebrations she opens up to close friends and family about her story of survival during the Holocaust, in a way she has never done before. Her recollections, depicted through dynamic 2D animation, include tales of three concentration camps, and of narrowly escaping death in a gas chamber. Along with uplifting stories, like Ella dissuading her niece from ending her life. The animation is juxtaposed with present day footage of Ella performing her weekly spiritual rituals, being active in the swimming pool and walking on the promenade in Cape Town. She is not your average grandmother, her vivacious personality and her positive outlook on life is truly inspiring. A universal message of resilience – as Ella is the epitome of the will to survive. This film could not be more relevant in a world that still defines itself by what is other.
Tali Nates: Moderator
Tali Nates is the founder and director of the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre and chair of the South African Holocaust & Genocide Foundation. She is a historian who lectures internationally on Holocaust education, genocide prevention, reconciliation and human rights. Tali has presented at numerous international conferences including at the United Nations (2016 & 2020). She published articles and contributed chapters to many books, among them God, Faith & Identity from the Ashes: Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors (2015), Remembering The Holocaust in Educational Settings (2018) and Conceptualizing Mass Violence, Representations, Recollections, and Reinterpretations (2021). In 2010, Tali was chosen as one of the top 100 newsworthy and noteworthy women in South Africa, by the Mail & Guardian. She won many awards including the Kia Community Service Award (South Africa, 2015) and the Agit Gratias Award (2020, Czech Republic). Tali serves on the Academic Advisory Group of the School of Social and Health Sciences, Monash University (IIEMSA), South Africa. She was one of the founders of the Holocaust and Tutsi Genocide Survivors groups in Johannesburg. Born to a family of Holocaust survivors, her father and uncle were saved by Oskar Schindler. The rest of the family was murdered.
Jordy Sank is a South African director, producer and writer known for his award-winning feature documentary I Am Here (2021) and SAFTA nominated short film The Locket (2015). With multiple projects in development and pre-production he continues his pursuit and passion for crafting emotive stories; feature films, documentaries and narrative shorts.
A 100 year old Cape Townian Holocaust Survivor with a magnetic personality, boundless energy and a special zest for life. Having survived the atrocities of 3 concentration camps, Majdanek, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, she doesn’t harbor any hatred. On the contrary, today she is a strong advocate for love, peace and understanding. Ella Blumenthal was born in Warsaw, Poland. She was moved into the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940, where she participated in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. She was deported to Majdanek in 1943, then to Auschwitz and later to Bergen-Belsen where she remained until liberation. After the War, she lived in Paris and Tel Aviv, before marrying a South African and moving to Johannesburg. She lives in Cape Town and has four children, eleven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Ella Blumenthal, in 1938 and present day
| CREDIT: COURTESY OF SANKTUARY FILMS & BLUE FOX ENTERTAINMENT
“I Am Here” WINNER OF:
Audience Choice Award, Durban International Film Festival, 2021
Jury Award for Best SA Documentary (Oscar Qualifying), Durban International Film Festival, 2021 Best Director, Jozi Film Festival, 2021
Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, 2021
Best Director, Africa Human Rights Film Festival, 2021
Audience Choice Award, Africa Human Rights Film Festival, 2021