28 September 2017

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USC Shoah Foundation Releases 'Lala', A VR Film About The Bond Between A Family And Their Dog During The Holocaust

"Lala is a remarkable work of art that takes viewers on a emotional journey, no matter their age," said Stephen Smith, the Finci-Viterbi Endowed Executive Director at USC Shoah Foundation. "But it also offers a solution to a problem confronted by many educators: how does one introduce students to the horrors of the Holocaust, genocide and unchecked hatred in a way that is age-appropriate?"

Image via IWitness
USC Shoah Foundation is announcing the release of Lala, a virtual reality film and educational resource that tells the true story of a dog that brightened the lives of a family interned by the Nazis in a ghetto in Poland during the Holocaust.
Lala is both an immersive film for general audiences and an educational tool for students as young as grade five. The film is accessible in IWitness, the award-winning educational website from USC Shoah Foundation that uses testimonies – personal stories – from survivors and witnesses of genocide to teach students worldwide the importance of compassion and in bringing about positive societal change.
Developed by USC Shoah Foundation in partnership with Discovery Communications and Discovery Education, the film is packaged with activities, testimony clips and other resources for teachers in grades five through seven.
Offering a 360-degree experience, the six-minute film is a product of USC Shoah Foundation's Stronger Than Hate initiative to support educators by providing them with tools and training that will help educators, student leaders and policy makers engage audiences responsibly and confidently in discussions around hate and intolerance.
Narrated by 88-year-old Holocaust survivor Roman Kent, a lifetime member of USCShoah Foundation's Board of Councilors, Lala is based on the children's book he penned, "My Dog Lala."
In the film, Kent appears as he is in the present, and alternately as the animated version of himself as a child during flashback sequences.
Kent shares the story of his family's dog Lala, who did something extraordinary during the Holocaust. When he, his siblings and parents were forced to move into the Lodz ghetto in Poland, they left Lala and her new puppies behind since dogs were not allowed. But each night she appeared at their apartment in the ghetto, having managed to track them down from miles away, and stayed with them until morning, when she would return home to her puppies.
Every night for weeks Lala followed this routine, until the family was forced to hand her over to the Nazis since it was against the law for Jews to own dogs.
The film can also be viewed on a smartphone with a VR viewer, on a smartphone or mobile device on its own, or on a computer screen through YouTube, which enables viewers to click on a scene with a cursor and view the film in 360 degrees.
"Lala is a remarkable work of art that takes viewers on a emotional journey, no matter their age," said Stephen Smith, the Finci-Viterbi Endowed Executive Director at USC Shoah Foundation. "But it also offers a solution to a problem confronted by many educators: how does one introduce students to the horrors of the Holocaust, genocide and unchecked hatred in a way that is age-appropriate?"
The Video

SOURCE: USC Shoah Foundation



Extra Bits
Roman Kent was born Roman Kniker to Emanuel and Sonia Kniker in Lodz, Poland, on April 18, 1929. In 1939, soon after the Germans invaded Poland, Roman and his family were forced out of their home and had to move into an empty room in the factory that had been confiscated from his father. They were then sent to the Lódz ghetto, where conditions were harsh. In the fall of 1944, the ghetto was liquidated, and the family was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. To get transferred, Roman and his brother Leon said they were tradesmen and were sent to Gross-Rosen, and later to Flossenburg. While on a death march en route to Dachau, they were liberated by the U.S. Army. The brothers then traveled to Sweden, where they were reunited with their sisters in a hospital in Lubeck. In June 1946, Roman and Leon immigrated to the United States. After college, the brothers moved to New York and changed their last name to Kent because it was easier to pronounce. Roman met his future wife Hannah in New York, and they were married in 1957. They had two children, Jeffrey and Susan. Roman became involved in Holocaust education and was instrumental in the making of Children of the Holocaust, a documentary film dedicated to the memory of the children who died during the Holocaust. At the time of Roman’s interview on April 29, 1996 in New York, he and his wife Hannah had two grandchildren, Eryn and Dara.
Eva Freedman was born on July 2, 1934 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. By 1941, all Jews had to leave Bratislava and so Eva and her family moved to a nearby town called Nitra. During 1942-1944, all Jews were deported from Nitra. Eva, her mother, her sister Gertie went into hiding with her mother’s sisters and family. They were kept in hiding within an apartment building, moving between a room upstairs and a cellar in the basement for about eleven months. They were liberated by Soviet soldiers in early 1945. Around 1946, Eva’s eldest sister who had moved to Israel arranged for her family to get permits to live in Israel as well. Years later, she traveled to Ireland, where she learned English and also met her husband, Lennard Freedman, whom she married in December 1959. She had two children, one son, Martin, and one daughter, Allison. She was interviewed in London, England in November 1996.
Helen Fagin was born February 1, 1922 in Radomsko, Poland. In 1939, the German authorities turned the town into a ghetto. Helen, who was seventeen at the time, set up a clandestine school and taught her younger sister and other children. In October 1942, Helen’s parents were taken away in a raid while Helen and her two sisters managed to hide. Soon after, Helen’s sisters escaped from the ghetto with the help of the underground while Helen remained behind. In January 1943, Helen was selected for deportation when the ghetto was being liquidated, but she managed to escape on the march. With the help of the underground, Helen was able to secure false identity papers. After months of living under a false identity, Helen traveled in Busko, Poland where she was liberated by the Russian Army. After liberation, Helen returned to Radomsko and eventually went to Bad Gastein, Austria, a displaced persons’ camp. On May 15, 1947, Helen went to a dance in New York City where she met her future husband, Sidney Fagin. Helen and Sidney got married on November 14, 1948, and had two children, Judith and Gary. Helen received a number of awards for her work promoting tolerance and in 1994, President Clinton invited her to be on the advisory board for the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. At the time of her interview in 1996, Helen and Sidney lived in Sarasota, Florida.