Author Archives: David

Photograph of the Day – Nargilla

Old City, Jerusalem

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Mozart's Last Aria

Book Trailer -Recently filmed for the novel: Mozart’s Last Aria by Matt Rees

This is the fifth book trailer I have had the opportunity to film for writer Matt Rees – This time for his upcoming historical novel about the mysterious death of  composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. We decided to do something much more cinematic this time, but unfortunately were unable to travel to Vienna, so, instead shot in his apartment in Katamon, (Jerusalem) and in Jaffa. Because we didn’t have professional actors, I thought that we shouldn’t try to have our “actors” act, but instead use voiceover on top of shadows, hands, and sillouettes to add mystery, tension and drama to the piece.  I asked Matt to pick some quotes from the book that tell climactic scenes from the story, without giving too much away — Emphasizing the Masonic elements.  I also wanted to evoke strong mood using color and overemphasized the blues for the poison scenes and reds for others.

Day One was shot in his apartment – Very simple lighting of Mozart’s shadows, Matt’s son Kai’s cameo, and the poison scene, using a ring we found at the market in Jaffa.  Everything was shot on my Canon MarkII DSLR camera and recorded with Zoom 4hn digital recorder.

When we arrived to film the musical scenes on Day 2, Orit played a little known piece for us that Mozart was actually composing when he died. We were all mesmerized by the composition and her beautiful playing and thought it would work perfectly because of all the changes that would make it great to cut to in the editing.  Orit’s playing was intense,  graceful and inspiring – A pleasure to film.  Shira, our opera singer, had just performed the Mozart’s The Magic Flute in school, which plays a part in Matt’s book. Her voice was powerful and dramatic – And, again went for weird shadows on the wall – Then we added some echo in Post to give it a haunting sound.

Matt’s promised me our next shoot will take place in Rome if we get a million hits, so please circulate the video to everyone you know!

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Sea of Black

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Poland at Crossroads – Wall Street Journal

While filming some final scenes of my documentary Scandal in Ivansk in Poland a couple weeks ago, I did this piece for the Wall Street Journal about the country after the tragic plane crash that killed their president, first lady and many other government officials and civilians. The original WSJ piece can be seen here:

-Shot with my new Canon 5dMarkII (HDSLR)-

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Salam Fayyad

The Jerusalem Post reports that Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz hailed Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad as “the best that Israel has, and probably the best that Israel has ever had” in terms of a partner for peace. Here is my interview with Salam Fayyad from several months ago where he spoke to me about cracking down in the West Bank, improving living conditions, and economic development as ways to achieve peace.

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Jerusalem Post Film Review

Please come to tomorrow’s free screening of Remember me in memory of Leopold
Kehilat Yedidya Synagogue
12 Lifshitz Street
Baka, Jerusalem
Wed. April 14 at 7:30 PM
For more information about the screening or House to House contact:
Darla at 052-692-6451
Here is a review in the Jerusalem Post.
Foraging for forgotten dignity
Photo by: David Blumenfeld

Foraging for forgotten dignity

12/04/2010 12:51

The documentary film ‘Remember Me’ focuses on the daily struggles of Holocaust survivors in Israel.

While the focus of most events and ceremonies on Holocaust Remembrance Day is on the millions who perished at the hands of the Nazis, local filmmaker David Blumenfeld’s short documentary Remember Me places the spotlight on the survivors who made their way to Israel.According to a recent study by the Myers JDC Brookdale Institute, about half of the estimated 233,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel lack money for their homes. Remember Me focuses on three survivors who open up about their daily struggles living in poverty, and about how they were eventually helped by a non-profit organization called House to House.

The organization, founded in 1999 by Ohio immigrant Darla Oz, offers aid to some of Israel’s neediest citizens. But after reading a 2007 story in The Jerusalem Post about the economic hardships faced by 86-year-old survivor Leopold Rozen, Oz also established Project Dignity in order to provide assistance to survivors and improve their substandard living conditions.

“I already knew about House to House because I was friendly with Darla. She initiated the idea of making a film, approached me, and raised the funds for it,” said Blumenfeld, a native of New Orleans who moved to Israel in 2000. “But it wasn’t until I went out with her and saw what the organization did that I got moved and saw how important their work was.”

Interviewing dozens of survivors for the documentary, Blumenfeld chose to focus on the lives of three – Rozen, Ronnie Markovich and Tova Farkash – who talk about their personal experiences during the war, their arrival in the Jewish Homeland and their daily struggles living in poverty.

“When I went out and saw some of the living conditions and how they’re suffering, and then how they’ve been transformed by House to House, it really inspired me to put my heart and soul into the film,” said Blumenfeld.

In one scene, Rozen describes the dilemma he faced on a daily basis. “My whole life is hard… I’ve gone hungry many times. I’d rather die than ask someone for a piece of bread.”

ROZEN, WHO recently passed away, was aided by House to House with a monthly stipend and regular visits and phone calls, as are Markovich and Farkash.

“Even though he went through so much, Leopold was so full of life,” said Blumenfeld. “What he told us was that he wanted to be remembered. That’s how we got the title of the film. Basically, these people just want to be touched, to have someone there for them. They’re lonely and they have nobody.”

According to Blumenfeld, the challenge in making Remember Me was to tell all three stories in such a short time frame without creating three separate films.

“The three survivors came from totally different places with different stories of survival. For each of them, there’s a pre-war life, their incredible stories of survival, and then their coming to Israel. What I did was try to combine the three stories into one Holocaust story,” he said.

Blumenfeld, who co-produced the successful 2008 documentary Circumcise Me: The Comedy of Yisrael Campbell, and whose photographic work has appeared inNewsweek, TIME, Esquire, and the New York Times Magazine, has his own connection to the Holocaust – his grandfather’s mother and brother were both killed in Treblinka.

“I’ve been working on a film project for about five years about the town in Poland that my grandfather came from. So, I feel more connected to the Holocaust now than I ever was,” he said.

A screening of Remember Me to benefit House to House will take place on Wednesday night (April 14) at the Kehilat Yedidya synagogue in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood in the attendance of some survivors.

Blumenfeld hopes that the film will help open eyes to the plight many survivors still face on a daily basis, much like his own eyes were opened.

“I was really blown away to hear how much they struggled in Israel. These are people upon whose back this country was built, and they were forgotten.”

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Remember Me: Film Screening on Wed. April 14, 19:30-Yedidya Synagogue

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Photographs of the day

Geula, Jerusalem

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Mea Shaarim, 2010

An image from the series Mesamche Lev.

I learned a new word this week: “Schmeichl” (Smile!) It’s actually an old word in Yiddish. But spending time in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox neighborhood, it seems that Yiddish is alive and well. Photographing in Mea Shearim is like having a chance to go back in time to take pictures.  This picture is from a fundraising series I began this week for Mesamche Lev, an organization that gives out 60,000 pairs of shoes in Mea Shearim for Passover.  The only one who didn’t schmeichl was my son, Ya’ar, who we posed in the picture to show some “diversity”…I guess I need to teach him some Yiddish.

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'Engrossing,' 'New Yorkers will be startled' New York Times Book Review

Coney Island is the perfect scene for a crime novel. This was my first impression as I exited Brooklyn’s final subway stop and strolled through boarded up Freak Show stands, the circa-1950’s “Cyclone” wooden roller-coaster, and a limping crack-headed hooker mumbling a solicitation from across Surf Avenue. I had arrived at the infamous Coney Island to film a book trailer for Matt Rees’ new novel, The Fourth Assassin, recently reviewed in the New York Times Book Review.

When I mentioned to Matt that I was going to New York City last year, he asked me to shoot some scenes for the upcoming book trailer which I would be producing for his latest novel in the acclaimed Omar Yussef crime series. In addition to my day in Coney Island, which brought me within inches of getting mauled by a vicious Rottweiler guarding the Headless Woman Concession Stand, my filming adventure took me to the Little Palestine of New York – Bay Ridge. I felt transported back to the holyland while filming at the “Ramallah Cafe”, where I was interrogated and searched by a group of suspicious Palestinian hookah-smoking hoodlums, who finally chased me out of the neighborhood. All in a day’s work…

-I hope you enjoy the trailer and buy the book.

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