Buzz Aldrin Students Screen Documentary "Joe's Violin"
Thursday, January 12, 2017
On stage, Kahane Cooperman (r) and producer Raphaela Neihausen answer students' questions on their documentary.
The students at Buzz Aldrin Middle School had the opportunity to screen the award-winning short documentary “Joe’s Violin,” about then 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Jospeh Feingold, who donates his violin of 70 years to a local instrument drive, changing the life of a 12-year-old schoolgirl from the Bronx, and unexpectedly, his own. After viewing the film, students took part in a Q&A with the film’s creators, director/producer Kahane Cooperman and producer Raphaela Neihausen.
Feingold grew up in Poland, the eldest of three boys in a Jewish family. When he was young, his mother would sing Jewish songs and he’d accompany her on the violin. In 1939, when the Nazis invaded Poland, the 16-year-old Feingold was imprisoned in a war camp in Siberia for 6 ½ years. His younger brother and mother died in concentration camps.
When the war ended, he was freed and returned to Poland before settling in Germany with his father and middle brother who survived Auschwitz. It was in a flea market in Frankfurt, where he lived in a displaced-persons camp waiting for passage to the United States, that he swapped a carton of American cigarettes for a violin. Feingold played the violin over the course of 70 years, until one day, upon hearing about a radio station’s musical instrument drive, he decided to pass on the cherished instrument. The violin found its way to the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls and music teacher Kokoe Tanaka-Suwan felt student Brianna Perez was perfect for the instrument.
The film captures Brianna’s love of the cherished violin and the heartwarming meeting she has with Feingold.
Principal Jill Sack said screening the film at the school and meeting the filmmakers and Montclair residents Former Buzz Aldrin parent and director of the Montclair Film Festival, who co-sponsored the screening with the Buzz Aldrin PTA, proposed the event to Sack. “We’re the STEM magnet,” she said. “We have classes on movie making, video production, broadcasting. Many of our students are interested in pursuing this field so this was
Students were encouraged to try their hand at making their own movies. “You are all storytellers, you can all be filmmakers,” Neihausen told the students. “For those of you with older grandparents…ask them to share their stories. It’s amazing what you can learn from them.”
Sack said in addition to hopefully sparking students’ interest in filmmaking that it also struck a chord with them. “It’s a story about the human spirit, survival, resiliency and relationships.”