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Blumenthal Screens Documentary At Tel Aviv University

Published: August 15, 2013

Film and Electronic Art’s Sharyn Blumenthal was invited in May to screen her feature-length documentary film “The Phoenix Effect” at Tel Aviv University in Israel. The invitation came from Francoise S. Ouzan, senior researcher at the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center of Tel Aviv University, associate researcher at the French Research Center in Jerusalem, and lecturer at the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem.

“The Phoenix Effect,” which deals with the resettlement of Holocaust Survivors in America after World War II and the effect of trauma on their children and grandchildren is historical proof of Ouzan’s research.

“The trip was a dream come true,” said Blumenthal, a member of the university since 1988. “My only disappointment was that the initiator of the project and co-creator of the film, emeritus faculty member Edith Hirshtal was not able to join me. The beauty of the country and people, who have created a modern state without sacrificing the majestic spirit of antiquity, will continue to be a source of inspiration.

“The Phoenix Effect” received an enthusiastic welcome from the Israeli audience, which included a representative from the American Embassy.

“I met women and men of different ages and backgrounds, Blumenthal said. “Some were Americans now living in Israel, others French citizens, many were second- and third-generation Holocaust survivors whose parents’ lived with the memory of Hitler’s death camps.”

A discussion followed the screening and according to Blumenthal, “Everyone wanted to share their opinion or tell a story. Second-generation Holocaust survivors, who call themselves, ‘the replacement generation’ revealed the responsibility and burden of having to make up for their parents’ losses.

“After witnessing the reaction of audiences in different parts of the country,” Blumenthal added, “I believe the film allows people of all religions and nationalities to understand the effects of post traumatic stress and hopefully to feel some relief from the trauma they may have experienced as children or adults.”

“The Phoenix Effect” received support from The Nimoy Foundation and CSULB. Blumenthal shot many sequences during a sabbatical leave and was recently given a travel stipend from university Interim President Donald Para.

The Phoenix Effect

Blumenthal earned an MFA in film and TV from Temple University specializing in the theory, history, and production of documentary film. She moved to Los Angeles in 1984 after being accepted as a directing fellow of fiction film at the American Film Institute. Recent projects reflect her varied interests in literature and the performing arts—co-writing with Kathleen Jones and directing and mounting the full-length play “Acts of Faith” with Laterthanever Productions in San Diego. The play was adapted from short stories by the award-winning author Grace Paley.

Under the pen name Cooper Sy, Blumenthal’s poetry and prose have recently appeared in various literary journals—Montreal Review, June 2012; Battered Suitcase Journal Edition, spring 2011; Petrichor Review, winter 2012; “Ray’s River Review,” fall 2012; Wild River Literary Review, winter 2012; and Love Notes: A Collection of Poetry,” Vagabondage Press, 2012.

Blumenthal’s latest documentary film, “Privileged Chicks” earned her a sabbatical leave in fall 2011. The film follows five women, “boomers” who have had more education, opportunities, freedom and early success than any other generation. Now, in act three of their lives, they face financial, health, political and emotional obstacles that may destroy any chance to fulfill the promise of their youth. Blumenthal hopes to screen the film at the University Film and Video Association Conference in August 2014.

–Richard Manly