Fern Film


Stories of the Holocaust   June 8

Our film festival day presents stories and films about the holocaust, one of the most devastating historical events. We cover all genres from drama to documentaries. Our mission is to keep people informed through the power of film, to spread awareness, and to inspire people so that history doesn’t repeat itself. In addition to our films, we will have Q&As with the filmmakers and actors, as well as special guests to share their stories and experiences of the Holocaust.

Email if you have any questions! 
Fern Film Festival Presents: 

Refuge - Stories of the Selfhelp Home

9:30 a.m.        1 hour

In the late 1930s a determined group of German-Jewish refugees left behind well-established  lives and most of their possessions and immigrated to Chicago. There, they set out to create a  supportive community for themselves and other German, Austrian and Czech Jews fleeing Nazi  persecution. Eventually, they founded Selfhelp, an organization providing temporary housing, food, English classes, job placement and, in 1950, a residential home for elderly emigrés and Holocaust  survivors. REFUGE: STORIES OF THE SELFHELP HOME features the deeply personal stories of  these residents, who spent the war years surviving by any means necessary. Vividly, they reflect on  these experiences — of separations, deportations, selections and life-and-death decisions. REFUGE  moves back and forth seamlessly between these often heartbreaking stories and examines how the trajectories of residents and founders diverged during the war and came together again around  Selfhelp.

Director       Ethan Bensinger 

Q&A with Ethan Bensinger following the screening. 

Fern Film Festival Presents: 

The Basketball Game

11:00 a.m.        5 mins

This animated short tells the story of an epic basketball game between kids attending Jewish camp and students of a notorious local Holocaust denier. Nine-year-old Hart is attending Jewish summer camp for the first time. He is both curious and afraid. What awaits him on the basketball court?

Director/Writer       Hart Snider

Fern Film Festival Presents: 


1:15 p.m.       21 mins

Even at a frail 90, Martha Katz has an impish energy that remains undiminished. She chides grandson-filmmaker Daniel Schubert over his choice of shirt during a visit to her Los Angeles home, but there’s trauma beneath the humour. At 14, Martha and her family were torn from their village in Czechoslovakia and shipped to Auschwitz. A visit to a Holocaust museum ignites painful memories, including a haunting personal encounter with one of Nazi Germany’s most notorious figures. For Martha, however, the emphasis is on a tough but rewarding postwar life in Winnipeg, which she fondly recalls in this warm, intimate portrait of an unrelenting survivor.

Director       Daniel Shubert

Fern Film Festival Presents: 

Secret Lives - Hidden Children and Their Rescuers During WWII

1:15 p.m.         1 hour 10 mins

Before the Second World War, more than 1.5 million Jewish children were living in Europe. By the end of the Holocaust, less than one in ten had survived. Secret Lives tells the emotional stories of a small number of those who were saved by non-Jews in extraordinary acts of bravery and kindness. These men and women of uncommon decency did everything from bringing Jewish children into their families to securing hiding places in closets and attics. Directed by Academy Award® winner and former hidden child Aviva Slesin, this documentary reveals what happened between the children and their rescuers and shows how this experience forever changed their lives.

Directed and Produced by Aviva Slesin

Q&A with Aviva Slesin following the screening

Fern Film Festival Presents: 

I Was A Child Of Holocaust Survivors

2:30 p.m.       15 mins

This short animation is director Ann Marie Fleming’s animated adaptation of Bernice Eisenstein’s acclaimed illustrated memoir. Using the healing power of humour, the film probes the taboos around a very particular second-hand trauma, leading us to a more universal understanding of human experience. The film sensitively explores identity and loss through the audacious proposition that the Holocaust is addictive and defining.

Director        Ann Marie Fleming 

Q&A with Ann Marie Fleming following the screening.