Jewish Journal

Oscar ! Oscar !

by Tom Tugend

Posted on Feb. 15, 2001 at 7:00 pm

A film on the Nazi-era rescue of refugee children, most of them Jewish, has been nominated for an Oscar in the documentary feature category.

"Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport" chronicles the rescue of some 10,000 children from Nazi-dominated Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia in the 18 months leading up to World War II.

Also in the documentary feature category, "Scottsboro: An American Tragedy" by Barak Goodman and Daniel Anker tells of nine black youths charged with raping two white women during the Depression and the controversial Jewish attorney, Samuel Liebowitz, who defended them.

Jan Hrebejk's "Divided We Fall," a contender for best foreign language film, is a Czech dark comedy about a childless couple who hides their Jewish former neighbor from the Nazis after the young man escapes from a death camp. "One Day Crossing," about a Jewish woman who poses as a Christian in 1944 Budapest, was nominated in the category of live action short film.

On the talent end, Ellen Burstyn has a best actress nomination for her role as a Jewish widow spiraling into drug addiction in Darren Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream." And Marcia Gay Harden is up for best supporting actress as the Jewish American artist Lee Krasner in the biopic "Pollock."

"Kindertransport" traces the refugee children's reception in Great Britain and their lives after the war. Britain agreed to accept the children at a time when most other doors were closed to Jewish refugees. Entry was limited to children between 2 and 17, however, which meant their parents had to stay behind.

"I am euphoric," said producer Deborah Oppenheimer, whose mother was one of the transported children. "The nomination means that 'Into the Arms of Strangers' will be widely shown, including in many schools."

Director and writer Mark Jonathan Harris ascribed the nomination to the subject's universal appeal in showing the traumatic separation of children and parents.

Harris previously directed "The Long Way Home," a documentary about Holocaust survivors, which won an Oscar for its producers -- the Simon Wiesenthal Center -- in 1997. Harris also won an Academy Award in 1968 for the short film "The Redwoods."

"Time of Favor," Israel's entry for best foreign-language film, was not among the five films nominated in its category.

The Oscar winners will be announced at the Academy Awards presentation on March 25.

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