For filmmaker Keren Perlmutter, the Holocaust isn’t just a devastating piece of history that’s learned in classrooms — it’s a part of who she is.
“My perception of the Holocaust is different from someone who doesn’t have a personal connection since I don’t view the Holocaust as an event that happened in the distant past. The scope and impact of that dark time still resonates with me today,” said Perlmutter, the filmmaker behind, “Determined: The Story of Holocaust Survivor Avraham Perlmutter.”
Perlmutter’s film, which will be showcased at the 31st annual San Diego International Jewish Film Festival from Feb. 11 to 21, tells the story of her father, Avraham, who was just 10 years old at the start of the Holocaust, when Nazis killed millions of European Jews.
“I still find it painful to know that so many of my relatives were murdered in such a terrible and tragic manner,” Perlmutter said. “It also makes me more concerned about antisemitism in the world and more aware of some of the parallels between conditions in 1930s Germany and in the world today.”
Perlmutter, a Stanford University-educated engineer, shared her father’s story years ago in a book by the same name. She later created a documentary with the hopes of further creating a “positive impact on this world.”
“The way I conveyed my father’s story—as an inspirational tale filled with suspenseful action, humor, tragedy, and heart, and with its focus on the people who helped him—very much mirrored the manner in which my father originally shared his story with me during my childhood and teenage years,” she said. “My personal connection also motivated me to personalize within the film both the people who were killed during the Holocaust and those who risked their lives to save Jews.”
But, the documentary doesn’t just cater to adult audiences. Perlmutter said she specifically created her film with the hopes of reaching children. Avraham Perlmutter doesn’t just survive the Holocaust, but he later becomes an award-winning scientist and successful businessman.
“The film is framed as a gripping, suspenseful, and ultimately inspirational tale as my father continues to stay one step ahead of the Nazis during his teenage years—experiencing numerous near captures and orchestrating several daring escapes after being caught,” she said. “In addition, the visual materials used in the film are age-appropriate for younger audiences in that I purposefully avoided using graphic, traumatizing imagery. In this way, my hope is that younger viewers are able to better absorb and process the Holocaust as well as the messages of the film.”
By telling the story of the Holocaust from a personal perspective, Perlmutter said she hopes to inspire audiences to stand up when they see acts of injustice.
“My father’s story has a positive call to action that I hope inspires audiences to be upstanders rather than bystanders when they see injustices, and to have tolerance, compassion, and empathy towards people of other faiths and backgrounds,” she said. “I hope that by watching my documentary, viewers will not only learn about the past, but also be inspired to make a positive difference in their own lives and in the world at large.”
The San Diego International Film Festival will be held for 10 days, featuring 31 feature films. Tickets are $15 per program and $12 for Jewish Community Center members.
Films can be pre-ordered now, while some films are “limited-time screenings.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.lfjcc.org/cjc/sdijff.