THE JEWIS NEWS
15 AV 5755 / AUGUST 11, 1995
Joining Spielberg's Mission
In A Race Against Time
West Bloomfield filmmaker Fran Victor is part of the movie director's
worldwide Holocaust effort.
HEIDI MAE BRATT SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
That's all it takes
change a life.
JENNIFER FINER STAFF WRITER
Story on page 30
Special W. Bloomfield girl
asked for a bat mitzvah.
Jewish retailers like
Contents on page 3
ran Victor was 16 Victor told him about her experience as
when she first fell an interviewer of "real people" and de-
in love with the scribed some of her work, which includes
magic created on- documentaries on sensitive subjects like
screen by Steven children and divorce. She sent off a resume
Spielberg's thriller and samples, and days later was invited to
Los Angeles for three days of training.
Now she's a
Once in California, she met some of the
grown woman, a most enthusiastic and committed people
mother of two and who were at work on the project, many of
an award-winning video and film producer them from the production trailers of
in her own right.
Jurassic Park at Universal Studios. Their
If Spielberg's vision inspired the teen- mission and near-obsession is tied to the
ager to make films, then his latest epic pro- race against time.
ject — videotaping the testimony of 75,000
An estimated 300,000 Holocaust sur-
Holocaust survivors in the next
five years to create the first ma-
jor archival database — is giv-
ing Ms. Victor the chance to do
some of the most meaningful
work of her career.
Ms. Victor and her business
partner, William Harder, were
chosen by Survivors of the
Shoah Visual History
Foundation, the Spielberg-driv-
en force behind the huge
Holocaust online project, as the
Michigan-area team in the
Since returning from Los
Angeles in June, where she
trained as an interviewer, Ms.
Victor and Mr. Harder have
taped three local survivors.
"I feel that outside of rais-
ing my children, this is the
most important thing I'm do-
ing with my life," said Ms.
Victor, 37, who lives in West
Bloomfield. "It's an incredible
opportunity to be a part of his-
tory, to meet people for whom
I have such deep respect and
`They have incredible stories
to tell and I feel so privileged
to be a conduit to allow them
to give their testimony."
Bringing the project to
Michigan — which Ms. Victor
says "really feels good"— start-
ed with a blurb she read in The
Jewish News. After learning Fran Victor: Recording vivors, many in their 70s and 80s,
that the foundation hired an the testimony of
live in the United States and else-
international director of devel- survivors for history.
where. So far, about 10,000 testi-
opment, Ms. Victor telephoned
monies have been gathered over
California to find out if there was anything the years and placed in Holocaust archives,
she could do.
including the Fortunoff Video Archive for
She wound up talking to Michael Engle, Holocaust Testimonies at Yale and the
the project's director of production. Ms. Holocaust Memorial Center in West
Bloomfield Township. These repositories
have been invaluable for research and ed-
But what Mr. Spielberg plans is to cre-
ate the largest oral-history archive in ex-
istence. The scope is so big, and the
technology so advanced, that some of it
hasn't been invented. Once the interviews
are completed, they will be digitized — con-
verted to an electronic format which makes
it possible to be put online.
Researchers using computers will be able
to call up the interviews or portions of them
using key words. They'll be able to choose
interviews by subject's surname, gender or
hometown, a topic mentioned in the inter-
view or name of concentration camp. Mr.
Spielberg also plans to create educational
software based on the interviews that will
be accessible to any student in school who
knows how to go online.
Said Ms. Victor, "This is the permanent
AGAINST TIME page 8