The JDC Archives announced that After the Final No, a documentary directed and produced by Phyllis Lee about the Jewish Displaced Persons (DP) experience, was awarded the 2021 JDC Archives Documentary Film Grant. After the Final No portrays this often-overlooked chapter in Jewish history through interviews with Holocaust survivors and their children born and raised in the Jewish DP camps, soldiers and aid workers, weaved together with archival images and footage.  

“We are delighted to award this year’s JDC Archives Documentary Film Grant to After the Final No. In its moving portrayal of the DP experience, the film sheds an important light on the process of recovery of Holocaust survivors, an effort where JDC played a historic role,” said Linda Levi, Director of the JDC Archives.

Exploring the themes of resilience and post-traumatic growth at Foehrenwald, the last Jewish DP Camp to close in 1957, After the Final No recounts the reemergence of strong Jewish communities in the DP camps in Germany as survivors regained strength and reclaimed agency, with the essential help of organizations like JDC. The film is expected to be released in 2022.

The film director and producer, Phyllis Lee, is a second-generation Holocaust survivor with a life-long commitment to humanitarian work. Based in New York, she served for over three decades at the United Nations. During her career, she headed advocacy and strategic communications for the UN’s international humanitarian efforts, helping spotlight the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people including through film and media outreach. 

“I was blessed to grow up among a group of Holocaust survivors who had a tremendous zest for life in spite of all that they had lived through. My parents, both from Poland, met and fell in love in DP Camp Foehrenwald, where they also made lifelong friendships. They did not consider themselves to be victims, nor did they see themselves as heroes. They were flesh-and-blood people who had the good luck to survive. For many of them, their lives’ mission was to honor the six million who perished,” said Ms. Lee. “How they themselves – homeless and stateless – had found the strength to go on, to regain confidence and trust in themselves and others, much less to love and create families, remained an untold story. I realized that this story needed to be brought to the screen, and in their voices.”

The JDC Archives Documentary Film Grant awards $10,000 towards post-production and/or distribution costs of a documentary film that utilizes JDC’s archival collection and focuses on topics including 20th century Jewish communities, humanitarian assistance, etc. The 2021 grant is the culminating year of this annual award, which has supported documentaries since 2017. 

Past winners of the JDC Archives Film Grant include: 2017’s Cuba’s Forgotten Jewels: A Haven in Havana, which recounts the story of Jewish refugees who fled Nazi-occupied Europe for a safe haven in Cuba; 2018’s The Lost Crown, which looks at the mystery surrounding the Aleppo Codex; 2019’s The Remembered, which explores Jewish life in the small town of Gniewoszów, Poland, around WWII; and 2020’s IRMI, which provides a portrait of Irmi Selver, an emigree who escaped Germany in the 1930s and lived a life characterized by resilience.

With one of the most important collections for the study of modern Jewish history, the JDC Archives comprises the historical records of JDC, which has worked overseas with Jewish communities and others in distress since WWI. With records of activity in over 90 countries from 1914 to present day, the Archives includes over 3 miles of documents, 100,000 photographs, a research library of more than 6,000 books, 1,100 audio recordings including oral histories, and a collection of 2,500 films and videos. 

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