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In 2014, I began consulting with first-time filmmaker Cheryl Rattner Price on a documentary about the project that she and Jan Landau had launched at a school in San Diego. The Butterfly Project is in the process of creating 1.5 million butterflies in remembrance of the Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust. This was the first Holocaust-related project I’ve felt was right for me since making Paper Clips, although many ideas have been suggested.
As the film developed, I became more and more engaged in what Cheryl aspired to do, and eventually I signed on as co-director and co-producer of the film with her. One of the great highlights of the production for me was when we took survivor Ela Weissberger back to the Terezin concentration camp in the Czech Republic. It was there that Ela had been imprisoned by the Nazis, along with many thousands of others. Of the 15,000 children taken to Terezin, only 100 survived. For Ela, the artist Friedl Dicker-Brandeis was both teacher and mentor who helped Ela and other children maintain their emotional sanity through art therapy. The healing power of art is a central theme of NOT The Last Butterfly.
In my experience, as the work on a film progresses it’s hard to be sure whether or not it is gelling into what you and your colleagues are hoping for. Happily that point did come during an editing session earlier this year. Working with Cheryl — the most generous and trusting beginning filmmaker I’ve ever met — and our talented and patient editor Bob Shroder at Bob’s studio, we finally had a complete cut of the film that let us see that it was truly coming together.
That realization was confirmed in early May when we held our first sneak preview of NOT The Last Butterfly at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The theatre there is quite beautiful with excellent technical features and a great staff. There was a full house, and it was an attentive and receptive audience that laughed and cried in all the right places. The original score by my long-time collaborator Charlie Barnett supported the film exquisitely, as I knew it would. And the narration by young Shayna Dumont — her first VO gig! — was perfect in every way.
When the lights came up, the museum’s director, Leibe Geft, brought Cheryl and me onstage for a question and answer session. We were greeted with a standing ovation, and the discussion that followed was rich with emotional feedback.
IN OUR HEARTS PRODUCTIONS
NOT The Last Butterfly
PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY – CHERYL RATTNER PRICE and JOE FAB
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER – CHERYL RATTNER PRICE
EDITOR – BOB SHRODER
MUSICAL SCORE – CHARLIE BARNETT
NARRATOR – SHAYNA DUMONT
NOT THE LAST BUTTERFLY is not rated with a running time of 59 minutes