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How did the project start?

In 2014 I read a small newspaper piece: The Israeli institute for holocaust memory – Yad  Vashem, has recognized the first and only Arab Righteous among the nations, the highest honor given by the State of Israel to people who risked their lives to help Jews during World War 2.

Dr. Helmy passed away many years ago and it was also written in the article that his family in Egypt is unwilling to accept the award on his behalf.

This story captured my mind, I called Yad Vashem and asked for a meeting. In this meeting I got the information about Carla Greenspan– the daughter of the Jewish girl Anna Boros that her life were saved by Dr. Helmy.

When I spoke to Carla who lives in New York, I realized that this story is truly remarkable and I felt that I must make a film about it.

My main protagonist of the film is Dr. Ronen Steinke, a journalist of "Süddeutsche Zeitung".  I chose to work with him as he has much experience and knowledge regarding Jews in Germany and the era of Nazi Berlin. His approach is very well fitting for an educational movie of this topic. Steinke also published several articles about Helmy's story before his book about Helmy and Anna  “Der Muslim und die Jüdin" was published in 2017.

In early 2016 while I was working on the film I found a relative of Dr. Helmy who was willing to receive the award from Yad Vashem. This man, Dr. Nasser Kotby, a great nephew of Dr. Helmy was very close to him. Like his great uncle he is an impressive and fascinating man and currently I am making a cinematic film, "Anna and the Egyptian Doctor", which tells the contemporary story of the emotional meeting between Dr. Kotby and  Carla and employs animation for portraying the past events from the 1940's.

 

Development of the Film: What do I love about this story?

Making a film is a very long and tedious process that can take many years. The making of "Mohamed and Anna" took three and a half years. So of course the director must love the story and the characters in ordered to carry on in this challenging journey.

During the research done for this film, I found out that Dr. Helmy was an extraordinary man, and I adore him in several aspects:

He could not remain silent about wrongdoings and he was not afraid to criticize the regime in the shadow of danger and pay a heavy price for this.

He supported the weak, even if this meant sacrificing his own comfort and endangering his on safety. On the other hand, he was not sociable, he was a proud man, though the Nazis harassed him in every way possible – they did not permit him to marry to work at the hospital and imprisoned him for extended periods of time.

He took his fate in his own hands and did what he considered the right thing to do despite the great danger in the harshest and most discriminatory time in human history.

This film raises essential ethical questions that concern everyone: those who were wronged, those who wrong others, those who are brave enough to fight wrongdoings and those who choose to do nothing in front of wrongdoings due to fear.

I hope that the movie will help making people more aware of wrongdoings around them and will encourage them to provide help to the weak, which unfortunately exist in every society, every culture and every environment.

 

I will be more than happy to answer your questions, here or via my Facebook page Taliya Finkel Productions.taliyafinkelportrait

 

I hope you enjoy the film!

Taliya

 

 

 

 

 

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