Wednesday, November 27, 2013

No Place on Earth

Claude Lanzmann to Screen New Film The Last of the Unjust at USC Dec. 10

The award-winning French documentarian Claude Lanzmann will present his latest film, The Last of the Unjust, and participate in a discussion with USC Shoah Foundation executive director Stephen Smith at the USC School of Cinematic Arts Tues., Dec. 10.
The discussion begins at 7 p.m. in the Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108. The film, which is three hours and 40 minutes long, will begin at 7:30 p.m. The screening and discussion are free and open to the public. Seats are limited; RSVP here.
The Last of the Unjust reveals and builds on interviews Lanzmann conducted with Rabbi Benjamin Murmelstein in 1975. Murmelstein was the last president of the Jewish Council of the Czechoslovakian ghetto Theresienstadt, and while he is credited with helping hundreds of thousands of Jews escape Austria and preventing the liquidation of the ghetto, his is also hated by many who feel he, as well as many other Jewish Council leaders, collaborated with Adolf Eichmann and other top Nazis.
The film features the 1975 interviews as well as Lanzmann’s 2012 journey back to Theresienstadt, where he again meets Murmelstein and pieces together his story and the conflicting identity of the Jewish Councils.
Lanzmann began his career as a journalist and started making documentary films about the Holocaust and Israel in 1970. He is best known for his 1985 film Shoah, a nine and a half-hour documentary about the Holocaust that took him 12 years to make. The film does not use any archival footage; instead, Lanzmann interviews survivors, witnesses, and ex-Nazis in the present day to build a detailed portrait of the events of the Holocaust.
Lanzmann also directed Israel, Why (1973), Tsahal (1994), A Visitor From the Living (1999), Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m (2001) and The Karski Report (2010
- See more at:

October 1942 – Esther Stermer, along with some family
members and a group of other families, seek asylum underground to evade
being caught by pursuing Nazis. They remain hidden below for nearly a
year and a half – the longest recorded uninterrupted underground
survival occurrence.

Their harrowing story is unearthed by accident when cave
explorer, Chris Nicola, stumbles upon remnants left behind by the cave
dwellers. Through extensive research and determination, Nicola locates a
 few of the survivors and has them share their incredible story of
strength and perseverance.

- See more at:

Director / Producer

Janet Tobias started her film and television career at CBS’ 60 Minutes as Diane Sawyer’s associate producer. She then worked as a producer at ABC News’ Prime Time Live, as the editorial producer for ABC’s legal and criminal justice coverage, a national producer at Dateline NBC, and an executive producer at VNI (which became New York Times Television). After working at the networks, she moved to PBS where she produced/directed a four hour joint Frontline/Nightline project on the juvenile justice system in California, and executive produced the Emmy award winning PBS Life 360. In 2001, she co-founded Sierra/Tango Productions, which has produced over 20 films on subjects ranging from 13-year-old girls to US veterans returning from war. No Place On Earth, marks her debut as a theatrical director.
Janet has a parallel career in medicine and technology. She is the CEO of Ikana Health which focuses on health information on the mobile web/social media, and how it can be used to measurably improve family health and patient outcomes.
Besides the Emmy, her awards include two American Bar Association silver gavel awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, 2 Cine Golden Eagles, 2 Casey medals for meritorious journalism, a National Headliner Award, a Sigma Delta Chi Award, and honorable mention Robert F. Kennedy Journalism and Overseas Press awards. She is a member of the Forum on Drug, Discovery, Development and Translation of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and an adjunct assistant professor at Mount Sinai’s School of Medicine.


Rafael Marmor is a producer of documentary, feature film and television. His feature documentary Blue Blood, dubbed by Variety as “one of the best sports films of all time”, was nominated by both the Evening Standard and London Critic’s Circle for Best British Film of 2007. The narrative remake is currently in development with Ed Pressman and BBC Films. After a short digression producing the comedy TV series Svetlana for Marc Cuban’s HDnet, he returned to the feature documentary world as a producer on Alma Harel’s Bombay Beach, which won the Tribeca grand jury prize in 2011. His most recent film The Short Game, about the best 7 year old golfers in the world, premiered at SXSW 2013 where it won the audience award.
Paul is founder and Managing Director of Unanico Group, an internationally award-winning film and television production company and animation studio based in London and Shanghai.
Unanico Group is developing and producing a slate of live action and animation narrative and document feature film coproductions, bringing together leading film production and distribution partners from China and the West. Trained as a linguist and lawyer, Paul is a Member of the Writers Guild of America and Vice President of Royal Institute for East-West Strategic Studies.
Schirman’s first film, The Champagne Spy (Israel-Germany 2008) won the Israeli Academy Award for Best Documentary, was nominated for the European Film Prize and won the John Schlesinger Award for Outstanding First Feature as well as many other international awards and nominations. It is currently being adapted into a large fiction production by Oscar and Palme D’or winning director Billa August and Oscar nominated producer Uli Limmer.
In the Dark Room (Germany-Israel-Finland-Italy-Rumania 2013) is Schirman’s second feature documentary, part of a trilogy which continues with The Green Prince. Currently in production, The Green Prince is based on New York Times non-fiction best seller “Son of Hamas”. The Green Prince is also produced by Schirman through his Frankfurt based A List Films GmbH, in collaboration with Oscar winning producers John Batsek (One Day in September) and Simon Chinn ( Searching for Sugar Man and Man on Wire).

No Place on Earth Producer, Susan Barnett, has 16 years experience as an award-winning investigative reporter/producer/director, achieving international recognition for her work while at the network newsmagazines PrimeTime Live, 20/20 (ABC News), and Dateline (NBC News). Her original reporting has covered a range of topics, including: poor conditions in child care; migrant labor abuses; medical mistakes in the unregulated field of diagnostic ultrasound; the health impact of federal deregulation of the nation’s meat inspection system; problems with food handling and labor abuses at the nation’s fastest growing grocery chain; systemic abuse in the dog breeding industry.
Among her awards: Emmy Nomination/Network News-Investigative, 3 National Headliner Awards, 2 Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards + an Investigative Reporters and Editors Medal, National Press Club, Ark Trust Genesis Award, Columbus International Film and Video Festival, Cine, New York Festival/International TV programming, Society of Professional Journalists, Women In Communications, Midwest Regional Emmy/Documentary.
After leaving the networks, Ms. Barnett moved to strategic communications consulting for nonprofits and responsible for-profits. She continues production work on projects of particular personal interest.

Executive Producers

Molly Thompson launched and runs A&E IndieFilms and History Films, the networks’ feature documentary divisions. Productions include the Oscar-nominated, Sundance Award-winner Murderball, the Oscar-nominated Jesus Camp and the Emmy Award-winners The Tillman Story and Under African Skies. Thompson executive produces the division’s original productions including: Cave of Forgotten Dreams, The September Issue, The Tillman Story and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer. Thompson’s latest film for A&E IndieFilms, The Imposter was shortlisted for Best Documentary Feature in the 2012 Academy Awards and won a 2013 EE British Academy Film Award (BAFTA.)

Susan Werbe is Senior Executive Producer, Programming for History®. Since joining the network in 1997, Ms. Werbe has played a key role in the development and supervision of numerous series and specials on History, including American Pickers, which averaged 4.7 million total viewers in 2012.
Werbe is Executive Producer of The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents, an 8-hour limited series on presidential power from George Washington to Obama, Season 3 of Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy, Season 4 of American Restoration, and Season 2 of Cajun Pawn Stars. She is also Executive Producer on the feature documentary No Place on Earth, Life After People and 102 Minutes That Changed America.
Werbe has received two Primetime Emmy Awards: 2008-2009 Outstanding Non-Fiction Special for 102 Minutes That Changed America and 2005-2006 Outstanding Non-Fiction Series for 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America. She also won a Peabody Award in 2005 for Voices of Civil Rights. She was Executive Producer of Moonshot, a co-production that was nominated for a 2010 Primetime Emmy in the Outstanding Made-for-Television Movie category.
Prior to joining History, Ms. Werbe worked at CBS Eye on People where she was Senior Producer for I Remember with Charles Kuralt. Ms. Werbe began her television career at CBS News working on CBS Reports and was a producer on Eye to Eye with Connie Chung, Walter Cronkite’s Universe, CBS Magazine and CBS Morning News. She was a Vice President and Executive Producer at Whittle Communications. From 1984-1991, Ms. Werbe ran her own company, specializing in fund-raising and educational videotapes for not-for-profit clients. She also wrote, produced and directed two documentaries for PBS.

Balázs Péter Kiss /
Saul Stermer

“When I got to know the story, it immediately started to interest me, how is it that a raging war destroys a world on the surface and creates another one deep under the ground. It was very exciting to learn about the fates of these people. Reenacting Saul’s character was an important professional challenge for me. When I got the part confirmed, my own life was at a difficult stage.  Getting deep into the story, learning how people did survive and overcome impossible situations, helped me become stronger and I realized by the end of the shoot that I am again full of energy and ready for new challenges.”

András Orosz /
Sam Stermer

When I went to the casting and was told that I could be a part of this film, I was thrilled. They told me the story and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Being down in a cave for this long and experiencing such things must have been terrible. During the shoot we could experience what they went through, how they lived in that era in those desperate conditions. I wouldn’t want to be in their situation! I wouldn’t have been able to survive those circumstances.
At first, it was hard to play Sam’s role but in no time I got into it, thanks to Janet and the crew’s help. I’m very delighted that I don’t have to live in a war or in a dictatorship.

Nora Kovacs /
Yetta Stermer

It was a real privilege to be the part of this touching movie, even though it was a hard task both physically and mentally to describe this gruesome situation, when we couldn’t even imagine those terrible conditions. But fortunately the cast was very professional and helpful to dig deeper into the details. I’m extremely glad that I got this role because I found out what a hard time that was and how valiant the people were in the past.

Dániel Hegedűs /
Sol Wexler

“When I went to the casting conversation I already felt that the story of The Cave was really close to me, although I was aware that I was just one of the many kids who applied. When I got the role, I read through the script many times so that I could understand who was who in the story. The story of Sol Wexler, whose role I acted, was very special and touching. He lost his mother and brother during the persecutions, and he had to overcome a lot of obstacles alone to survive. Janet Tobias often talked to me about the story and her encounters with the original characters. After the shoot I searched the internet and found further details, photos and stories about the Ukrainian cave and the survivors. The shoots were very exciting thanks to the special scenes, the Aggtelek dripstone cave, the stables in Szentendre and the forests in Slovakia, as well as the extreme weather conditions, the shoots on cold winter days and in the summer heat.”

Fruzsina Pelikán /
Sonia Dodyk
“This is my first role. On the shoot it was really really cold down the cave. We spent days down there, but the assistants gave me warming pads to put into my boots to make me feel more comfortable. It must have been really cold for them to live here for many days. Since then I do not play under the bed because it rings a bell…”

Mira Bonelli /
Sima Dodyk

“I can’t believe it that she [Sima] had to stay two years in the cave…I don’t know where she slept — on uncomfortable stones… I can’t believe she did that! She was really courageous.”



In 1942, 38 men, women and children slide down a cold, muddy hole in the ground, seeking refuge from the war above in a pitch-black underground world where no human had gone before. These five Ukrainian Jewish families created their own society where young men bravely ventured into the harrowing night to collect food, supplies and chop firewood. The girls and women never left; surviving underground longer than anyone in recorded history. Held together by an iron-willed matriarch, after 511 days, the cave dwellers, ages 2 to 76, emerged at war’s end in tattered clothes, blinded by a sun some children forgot existed. Despite all odds, they had survived.

The remarkable true story of NO PLACE ON EARTH starts out as a mystery. While exploring some of the longest caves in the world in southwestern Ukraine in the 1990s, American caver Chris Nicola stumbled onto unusual objects…an antique ladies shoe and comb, old buttons, an old world key. Was the vague rumor true, that some Jews had hid in this cave during WWII and if so, had any survived to tell their tale?
67 years later, Chris leads four of the survivors back to Ukraine to say thank you to “the cave.”

About The Film

October 1942 – Esther Stermer, along with some family members and a group of other families, seek asylum underground to evade being caught by pursuing Nazis. They remain hidden below for nearly a year and a half – the longest recorded uninterrupted underground survival occurrence.

Their harrowing story is unearthed by accident when cave explorer, Chris Nicola, stumbles upon remnants left behind by the cave dwellers. Through extensive research and determination, Nicola locates a few of the survivors and has them share their incredible story of strength and perseverance.
- See more at:

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