Beautiful for a Night: Miss Holocaust Survivor
Yad Ezer L'Haver Retirement Home, Haifa, Israel. A group of elderly women parade before a small audience, in their best clothes, with nice hair and elegant makeup. These are the rehearsals of a beauty pageant like no one before. Because all these women are Holocaust survivors.
Many Holocaust survivors, while revered and considered living testaments of history, live below the poverty line. Dr. Izabella Greenberg, a psychologist working with Holocaust survivors at Yad Ezer, noticed that women in particular had a sense of diminished self-worth. During World War II, the bodies of young girls and women were battlefields in their own right: rape, medical experiments, hunger, despoliation were commonplace. They had no opportunity to get to know their bodies, to feel pretty, feminine, appreciated, loved. In short, to feel beautiful.
So she had an idea: a beauty pageant to reinforce the survivors’ sense of self, to give them back at least a bit of their own self-worth, using the glitzy frame of one of our time’s most recognizable shows.
But this is no ordinary beauty pageant. Here, the participants win because of the stories they tell, not because of their looks. The competition becomes a celebration of their personal stories, and their power to save us, again and again.
That’s why we want to make this film.
MISS HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR follows three women, whose stories lead to the night of the beauty contest. Rita, Tova and Madeleine are independent, creative, feisty elderly women living at Yad Ezer. In the days leading to the beauty contest, we will know their stories. Their first acts: the Holocaust and the harrowing days of their childhood and youth. Their second acts: rebuilding their lives in Israel and America, creating families and building a country. Now, we see their third acts: making peace with their stories and celebrating their achievements, at the Miss Holocaust beauty pageant.
Beyond the pageant, though, our documentary will use different techniques to tell these remarkable stories. Stock footage for the Holocaust, but also sand animation for the women’s recollection: a fleeting, yet magic art form to capture the haziness of memories. And we will recreate one stunning moment of one story: a return to life. But this story is also about the relationships borne in the Retirement Home: at the end of the day, these women retain all their quirks, edges, tics... and humor.
Given the survivors’ age, this year’s Miss Holocaust Survivor could well be the last one. This is why we are shooting right now: we can’t wait, or the world will lose the chance to hear the survivors’ stories. And this is why we are using Kickstarter.
The Miss Holocaust Beauty Pageant took place in Haifa on October 14th, 2018. We have been awarded some German film funds for this project, but as those funds only cover German expenses, we will use your support to cover our shoot in Israel:
5200 € Travel Expenses Germany/Israel for the crew
6620 € Israeli Film Crew Members
4200 € Film Equipment and Grip Rental in Israel
4600 € Lodging Film Crew in Israel
2700 € Website and Social Media Outreach Campaign
3100 € Crew Transportation in Israel
3180 € Kickstarter Fee
1900 € Translations Hebrew/English
3500 € Food and Meals for Film Crew in Israel
TOTAL: € 35,000
If we raise € 40,000, we'll be able to add extra filming days in Israel.
If we raise € 50,000, we'll be able to have further sand animation sequences.
If we raise € 60,000, we'll be able to enhance and increase our re-enactment shoot budget.
And if we raise € 100,000... we have something even bigger in mind. Support us and follow us to know more!
But even better, pledging for the Adopt a Survivor Story (see Pledges) will allow us to interview even more women: more Holocaust survivor stories that will be saved forever and will be accessible on the film’s website. By helping us make this film, you will SAVE A STORY.
Beyond The Pageant
But there’s another reason we chose Kickstarter: to create a community around this project.
This is also a story about beauty: from a pageant about the beauty of stories to our own ideas of beauty. What IS beauty to us all? The glossy magazine version of perfect female bodies Photoshopped to an inch of their life, or the everyday imperfections that make us fall in love with the girl or boy next door? Is beauty a cultural construct and can we go beyond it and learn to see it in a different way? That’s why we are launching the hashtags #WhatIsBeauty and #AStoryOfBeauty. We will be interviewing people in Italy, Germany, USA, UK, Israel, asking them: WHAT’S BEAUTY FOR YOU? These inserts will be our viral campaign for the film, juxtaposing the Holocaust survivor women’s faces, stories and talks with today’s people and their own, global view of beauty, to find something deeper, universal and, well, beautiful.
In The End...
In a world of unhappy endings and growing hate, finding beauty seems to be harder and harder every day. We want to tell a story about life and inner beauty triumphing, even after the most terrible moments of history: about lives shining through, prevailing and rebuilding for the best. About frail, old bodies that carry a superior, inner beauty. That’s why this film is so important and timely.
The world needs stories of beauty. Please help us tell this story, before it’s too late. Thanks for your help and attention.
Risks and challenges
One of the primary risks of documentary production is actually raising a budget for our shoot to actually finish the film.
We have been already awarded production funds by Nordmedia (the Lower Saxony film fund), which we will use for post-production in Germany: but now we do need funding for the shoot outside Germany, as German film funds only account national and regional spending.
So this is why we are asking for your support.
The other risk with documentary filmmaking is the ability to reach audiences worldwide through festivals and distribution. As an experienced team, we have a plan to ensure success. Radek's current film, The School on Magic Mountain, is on tour around the world and we have an ambitious plan to ensure the stories from our film reach a wide audience.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter