HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Educational Media Reviews Online | THE NEW YORK TIMES CRITIC'S PICK | AUDIENCE AWARD - International Jewish Film Festival | 2021 NOTABLE VIDEOS FOR ADULTS - American Library AssociationHolocaust Studies • World History • Sociology • Genocide Studies • Ethnic Studies • Jewish Studies • Human Rights • Historiography
Date of Completion: 2018 | Run Time: 96 & 37 minutes (Purchase bundle or 37 minute version) | Language: English | Captions: Yes, English and Hebrew | Includes: Transcript | Director & Producer: Roberta Grossman | Executive Producer: Nancy Spielberg
In November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, a secret band of journalists, scholars and community leaders decided to fight back. Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, this clandestine group of journalists, scholars, and community leaders in the Warsaw Ghetto vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists, but with pen and paper.
Now, for the first time, their story is told in the documentary featuring the voices of three-time Academy Award® nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award® winner Adrien Brody. Written, produced, and directed by Roberta Grossman and executive produced by Nancy Spielberg, WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY mixes the writings of the Oyneg Shabes archive with new interviews, rarely seen footage and stunning dramatizations to transport us inside the Ghetto and the lives of these courageous resistance fighters. They defied their murderous enemy with the ultimate weapon – the truth – and risked everything so that their archive would survive the war, even if they did not.
Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Reviewed by Sheila Intner, Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College GSLIS at Mt. Holyoke
"The short answer to the title’s question is the people who were there: the Jewish victims of the Warsaw Ghetto who suffered and died when the Nazis occupied Poland during World War II. Who Will Write Our History accomplishes this mammoth task with all the breadth, detail, and intense emotion that they merit. Viewers see what occurred between 1939-40, after the Nazis invaded Poland, to the Warsaw Ghetto’s tragic destruction in 1944-45, and the ruins that remained when the Russians liberated Warsaw."
"Searing ... Indelible"
The New York Times - Critic's Pick
"Who Will Write Our History recounts a bold story of Nazi resistance. And inside that one story are countless others, each immensely important.
Using newsreels, voice-overs and re-enactments, Roberta Grossman, the documentary’s director, paints a comprehensive portrait of the times and of the risks taken by Ringelblum and his group. The staged scenes are well acted, while readings from diaries and letters are heartbreaking."
Los Angeles Times
"Who Will Write Our History is carefully made, with the production design team working with scholars for six months prior to filming to ensure accuracy. Though its form is complex, including archival scenes that include concentration camp-type footage, the film’s emotional through line is clear and direct."
National Public Radio
"Who Will Write Our History includes clips from German propaganda films … Voiceover commentators identify these snippets not merely as deceptive, but also as precisely the sort of Nazi defamation the Oyneg Shabes archive was designed to counter. In a sense, Grossman is attempting to right history by repurposing German-shot footage in a movie about the bravery and nobility of Polish Jews."
"In between interviews with academics (including Samuel Kassow, whose book gives the film its name), Grossman moves with agility among various kinds of source material. We get objective accounts of brutality witnessed on the streets; probing reflections on what extreme hunger does to the psyche; celebrations of people's ability, even in such a time, to produce and appreciate art and music."
"I would go so far as to call it the most important Holocaust movie in decades. Who Will Write Our History is the first Holocaust documentary that centers victim stories along with the written and visual materials they created to document their lives."
The New York Jewish Week
"Who Will Write Our History is scrupulously honest and has an admirable intellectual integrity."
The Christian Science Monitor
"Who Will Write Our History, directed by Roberta Grossman, brings to life a relatively obscure but vitally important historical chapter from the Holocaust … this film is itself an important act of historical reclamation. Grade: A-"
Big Apple Reviews
"This is a major piece of documentary filmmaking, the scholars and filmmakers working for six months to prepare the actual shooting, while the words spoken by the actors are the very words that emerge from the printed material."
Audience Award | San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
Best Documentary | Twin Cities Film Festival
Audience Award Best Documentary | Miami Jewish Film Festival
Best Documentary | Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival
Audience Award Best Documentary | Denver Jewish Film Festival
Audience Award Best Documentary | Pittsburgh Jewish Film Festival
Best Documentary | Charleston Jewish Filmfest
Best Documentary | Ferrara Film Festival
Audience Award Documentary | International Jewish Film Festival
Florentine Films Best Documentary Feature | Monadnock International Film Festival
Audience Choice Award for a Documentary Film | New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival
Audience Award for Best Documentary Film | Dayton Jewish Film Festival
University of Minnesota Duluth
Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies
Institute for Polish Jewish Studies
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
The Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel
Powell-Heller Conference for Holocaust Education
Jewish Public Library
United Nations Information Centre
Temple Adas Israel
Eldred World War II Museum
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH ROBERTA GROSSMAN
Director of RECKONINGS, WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY, BLESSED IS THE MATCH, & HAVA NAGILA