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April 15, 2010 - Image 52

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-04-15

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Arts & Entertainment

REEL LIFE

Guest Starring Joshua Sinclair

An eclectic director, a famous photographer and
a haunting mystery come together in Jump!

Elizabeth Applebaum
Special to the Jewish News

B

efore he became one of the
greatest photographers of his
time — a man who captured a
luxurious Marilyn Monroe slinking in a
corner, Richard Nixon jumping in the air
and Salvador Dali with leaping water and
flying cats — Phillippe Halsman was at
the center of a mysterious death that has
never been solved.
On Sept. 10, 1928, Morduch Halsman,
a Jewish dentist from Latvia, was found
dead in the Ziller Valley of Tyrol while on a
hiking trip with 21-year-old son, Phillippe,
then an electrical engineering student in
Dresden.
Phillippe said that his father had fallen,
that the death was an accident. But the
police arrested Phillippe, charged him
with murder and put him on trial on
December 13, 1928.
The trial was a fiasco that quickly
attracted international attention. Though
it would be years before Hitler came to
power, anti-Semitism was already grow-
ing, thick and deep and dark. Phillippe's

trial was riddled with lies, insinuations
and whispers; so overt was the anti-
Semitism that some of the leading figures
of the day, including Albert Einstein,
Sigmund Freud and Thomas Mann, spoke
out on Philippe's behalf.
In 1940 Halsman came to New York.
He spoke almost no English and had little
more than a camera, but by 1942, his pic-
tures were on the cover of Life magazine.
The extraordinary true story of
Phillippe's trial remained mostly forgot-
ten — until a few years ago when a friend
approached author and director Joshua
Sinclair.
Sinclair was born in New York — sort
of.
"I was born on the Leonardo da Vinci
ocean liner, just outside Pier 90 in New
York Harbor;' says Sinclair, 57. "So I guess
you can say I was born and raised in New
York?'
Since then, though, anything goes.
Not only an author and a director
but also an actor, physician, theologian,
songwriter and teacher, Sinclair has lived
around the world and today resides in
Vienna. He loves Europe's architecture,

Producer Norbert Blecha asked Sinclair
to write the story of Phillippe Halsman's
trial, which eventually became the move
Jump!, starring Ben Silverstone (Get Real)
as Phillippe and Patrick Swayze, in one
of his last and most critically acclaimed
roles, as Phillippe's colorful attorney,
Richard Pressburger.

As with all his projects, Sinclair did
"extensive research ... and dug deep into
those events" for Jump! This meant study-
ing the actual court transcripts and "re-
creating the events as they were described
in the testimonies of both the prosecution
and the defense'
What Sinclair did not consider: any
legitimacy of the charges against Halsman.
These were simply "the fruit of anti-
Semitism," says Sinclair, who is not Jewish.
"National Socialism and anti-Semitism
were alive and well in many countries
other than Germany — in Austria, for
instance. But we also know it was already
an infectious disease in Poland, Hungary,
Russia and even the United States."
Though Halsman went on to find great
fame, his trial was "horrific," Sinclair
says. "He came out of that darkness with
the help of art" Halsman also "found the
wherewithal to survive and prosper where
others would have succumbed to inexo-
rable defeat:'
Working with Patrick Swayze, says
Sinclair, "was the greatest film experience
of my life. He was a friend, a brother, a
faithful colleague, a mentsh, a source of

ence at the University of Michigan; Izzi
Lifschutz, filmmaker of the movie HAG
(Hasidic Actors Guild); Ken Droz, man-
ager of communications at the Michigan
Film Office in Lansing; Jim Burnstein,
who heads the screenwriting program at
the University of Michigan; Disturbing
the Universe filmmaker Emily Kunstler;
Ann Arbor businessman Michael Levine;
Leila Ferault, director of Bon Papa: A
Man Under German Occupation; and
French educator Kathy Meyer.
The festival will conclude on April
29 with the showing of the Australian
comedy Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger,
the hilarious story of the unending quest
to fit in and the girl who solves it by
completely breaking out, starring Toni
Collette and Keisha Castle-Hughes.
Sponsors of the the Jewish Film Festival
in Ann Arbor include the Michael and
Patricia Levine Philanthropic Foundation
and the Charles and Rita Gelman

A scene from the mockumentary HAG

Filmmaker and Patron Event speaker
Joshua Sinclair

nature, closeness, "its good and its evil. It
is emotionally and intellectually stimulat-
ing: ,

Fourteen Flicks

Jewish Film Festival returns to Ann Arbor.

Halye Aisner
Special to the Jewish News

Ann Arbor

T

he Lenore Marwil Jewish Film
Festival returns to Ann Arbor for
the ninth year April 25-29. The
festival includes 14 films over five days at
the Michigan Theater on East Liberty.
The festival opens 8 p.m. Sunday, April
25, with a showing of the Lenore Marwil
Jewish Film Festival 2010 Best Feature
Film winner, A Matter of Size. It tells the
story of an overweight chef who discov-
ers the fine art of sumo wrestling. Film
fest sponsors will enjoy a pre-film spon-
sors reception catered by Lori Shepard of
Simply Scrumptious Catering.
Of the 14 films to be shown in Ann
Arbor, eight are foreign, including five
from Israel. The Israeli films The Debt,
A Matter of Size and For My Father all

48

April 15 • 2010

have been nominated for multiple Israeli
Academy Awards. Leaving the Fold won
the award for best documentary at the
International Festival of Cinema and
Religion in Rome. Tel Aviv Jaffa, which
depicts the remarkable, moving and
humorous story of the largest city in
Israel, is a Steven Spielberg Jewish Film
Archive production.
The festival will host two Lunch and
Learn programs at the Michigan Theater.
The program on Wednesday, April 28,
will feature a discussion on the Michigan
film industry. The event on Thursday,
April 29, is titled "Jewish Genealogy-How
to Find the Family You Never Knew You
Had." The cost for each program is $8 for
JCC members and $10 for nonmembers.
Several special speakers will be part
of this year's event. They include Rabbi
Adam Rosenwasser of Congregation Beth
Am in California; Lars Rensmann, visit-
ing assistant professor of political sci-

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