The seven-minute video above opens with a slowly rotating montage of sepia-tone photographs showing well-dressed European families circa 1920s and 1930s. The film pauses on each photograph while red-lettered words appear near each person’s face. They read: “Fled” or “Hidden” or “Killed.” Sometimes all three will appear within one family.
The ones who fled went to Ecuador, an unlikely destination for European Jews. Visas were hard to come by so they went to whatever countries would accept them. Apparently Ecuador had an open immigration policy for Jews then, as they were interested in developing the country. Many of the 4,000 Jews who went to Ecuador didn’t even know the country existed, and ended up there because so many other countries closed their doors to them.
I didn’t know that so many European Jews ended up in Ecuador. I heard about this project from a friend of a friend and don’t know Eva Zelig, the filmmaker, personally. Yet I was excited to come upon her video and can’t wait to see the documentary in full. The only way that will happen is if Eva reaches her fundraising goal of $35,000 by December 12. So far she’s raised upwards of $16,000 from people like you and me. I gave what I could, which was enough to entitle me to a copy of the DVD when it is finished, estimated to be September 2012. If you haven’t already, please watch the clip and if you’re moved to do so, please contribute what you can (you’ll also get to be in the film’s credits). I, for one, can’t wait to see the final cut.