Dear friends of An Unknown Country,
I am reporting again from Ecuador, where I returned to participate in a series of events in the city of Cuenca that relate to topics explored in my documentary.
It was only fitting that on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the museum of Casa de la Cultura of Cuenca officially opened the exhibition titled, "Culture and Exile: The Jewish Migration in Cuenca." An Unknown Country is projected continuously in the gallery during the run of the exhibit till May 15. The exhibition features paintings in the museum's collection that my uncle, Oscar Schwarz, a refugee from Vienna, created when he lived in Cuenca. Also featured are works of art brought to Ecuador by the refugees. There is a display of photos of paintings of Cuenca and other sites in Ecuador created by Otto Kohn, a prominent architect from Prague. He taught architecture in Cuenca and designed its first modern building. Also shown are his photos of Cuenca from the early 1940s and vintage images of newspaper ads from various restaurants and cafes the Jewish exiles opened in Cuenca.
The handsome illustrated catalogue explores the history of Jewish persecution, aspects of the Jewish presence in Cuenca, as well as the story of my relatives, the Schwarz family, and essays by Otto Kohn and my cousin, Prof. Egon Schwarz. Casa de la Cultura invited my cousin (son of Oscar Schwarz), who had also lived in Cuenca. He gave a talk about emigration from Nazi Germany, and granted several press interviews, so he was in the spotlight daily as was the story of Jewish exile to Ecuador.
I joined my cousin, the exhibit's curator, and local scholars in a panel discussion that drew a large, attentive audience. It was gratifying to see so much attention paid to the cultural impact the Jewish refugees had in that city.
Here is a photo from the newspaper, El Mercurio, in which I'm seen at the museum next to one of my uncle's paintings that depicts the sorrow of exile.