My name is Eva Zelig.
In my television career I’ve received
many awards, including an Emmy, for programs I produced for major broadcast
networks from ABC to PBS. All that
time I told other people’s stories. Now, I’m producing a documentary to tell my own
-- the story of my family and of others who fled Europe escaping the Nazi
terror to find refuge in an unlikely destination: Ecuador.
An Unknown Country is an
independent film that will tell the story of those who were
able to reach the shores of this small South American country -- barely known
at the time. Featuring first hand
accounts and archival material, the story will open a window on the exiles'
perilous escape and difficult adjustment as they remade their lives in an
Through the exiles’ personal
testimonies, the documentary chronicles their heartbreaking search for a
would take them in when most had closed their doors. It sheds light on
why Ecuador, a small country with few
resources, granted asylum to the refugees. It also explores the actions
of Ecuador’s consuls in Europe:
some exacted heavy fees for visas, others helped for humanitarian
reasons. One consul daringly issued Ecuadorian passports to stateless
refugees to delay deportation. For his life-saving
efforts, he was honored posthumously in 2011 by Israel’s official
the victims of the holocaust.
The film will provide fresh
insights as it relates the refugees’ struggles to build new lives and hold on
to elements of their European culture in what was for them an exotic,
unfamiliar land. It explores the
relations between the local inhabitants and the European immigrants in their
midst, and highlights the contributions the immigrants made to the economic,
artistic, and social life of their host country.
In the present day we follow Ecuador’s
small Jewish community as it unveils designs for a monument to honor the
humanitarian consul. The children
of the refugees -- now living abroad -- return to Ecuador, the land of their
birth. During this reunion, they
reconnect with childhood memories and rediscover the unique and peculiar
aspects of living in the country that welcomed their parents.
I began work on this project in
2010, eight months before I traveled to Ecuador to shoot the reunion. I
interviewed exiles, their children and
grandchildren, both there and in the United States. In the refugees’
poignant experience I found a lesson in survival and perseverance. I
was reminded that it's important than ever to capture and preserve the
stories of those who witnessed and endured one of the most harrowing
periods of the 20th century.
Until now I have borne the costs
of producing this film, as I shot most of the footage and edited this preview, but
have taken it as far as I can alone.
I’m coming to Kickstarter to raise public support to get us to the next
stage: a completed cut of the full-length story. I will be working with Terence Taylor, a producer for New York's PBS station, WNET/Thirteen, who also designed The Big Bang Theory logo and motion graphics for POV and Independent Film Channel programs. He will be cutting the film and designing additional elements, as he did in the preview. We hope to release An Unknown Country in 2012, and every dollar you donate
here brings us closer to telling this moving story.
The amount we’ve set for our
Kickstarter goal is the minimum needed to progress. These funds will be used for expenses related to the final editing
of the film, including additional research, shooting new footage, obtaining rights
to archival photos, stock footage and music. We intend to use our first edit of the full film to raise completion
funds from private and institutional funding. Any amount above our goal that’s raised here will go to the
next phase of our funding.
If you like what you see and want
more of this story, please donate.
Your generous contribution helps bring this little-known facet of
the history of the Holocaust to a worldwide audience. Your pledge will
not be displayed. All pledges are hidden, but the total amount raised
is made public. Some premiums will be available before others.
happens if this project doesn't reach its funding goal? Your credit
card is not charged unless and until the goal is reached.
SPREAD THE WORD to family, friends, and your own group mailing
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