Documentary on Fanya Gottesfeld Heller focuses on the relationships she developed speaking in
inner-city schools about her wartime experience.
The first time Holocaust survivor Fanya Gottesfeld Heller told her story at Pacific High School, an alternative public school in downtown Brooklyn, she jumped every time a school bell sounded. The students, mostly black and Latino, all from low-income and troubled homes, noticed.
And all understood. Some 70 years after she came under Nazi rule as a young teen in her native Ukraine, and some 50 years after she immigrated to the United States, part of her is still that frightened adolescent.
Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker David Grubin, a Manhattan resident whose last project was a history of American Jews, has now looked east. His newest documentary, “The Buddha,” about the founder of the Buddhist faith, premieres nationally on PBS on April 7. In recent weeks he has traveled around the U.S. for local screenings.
Q: How do you go from a project on American-Jewish history to a documentary on Buddhism?
In the cultural history of the second half of the 20th century, few figures — and no Jews — are more influential or pivotal than Bob Dylan.
No other artist bestrides so many trends and streams of Americana; Dylan merges folk, blues, gospel, country, rock and modernist poetry (with strong ties to the Symbolists and Surrealists). And in his relentless shape-shifting and self-reinvention he is an archetype for the age of mass communications.