Seekers of Meaning 1/28/2022: Richard Brownstein, author of “Holocaust Cinema Complete”

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By Rabbi Richard Address-Jewish Sacred Aging. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

On this week’s episode of the Seekers of Meaning TV Show and Podcast, the guest is Richard Brownstein, author of Holocaust Cinema Complete: A History and Analysis of 400 Films, with a Teaching Guide, just published by McFarland Press.

Holocaust cinema is so venerated that one-third of all American Holocaust films have been nominated for at least one Oscar. Nonetheless, most Holocaust films have fallen through the cracks, while others have spawned controversy or even outrage. This book explains these trends — and many others — in a complete guide to 400+ Holocaust films and made-for-television movies.

From Anne Frank to Schindler’s List to Jojo Rabbit, Holocaust films are put into historical and artistic perspective and are discussed through many lenses: historically, chronologically, thematically, sociologically, geographically and individually. The filmmakers behind these films are also contextualized, including Charlie Chaplin, Sidney Lumet, Woody Allen, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg and Roman Polanski. This book also includes recommendations and reviews of the 50 best Holocaust films, an educational guide, and a detailed listing of each Holocaust film.

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About the Guest

Richard Brownstein

A Holocaust and Jewish film expert, Rich teaches educators worldwide. He has lectured for Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies since 2014 about the history of Holocaust films and their use in the classroom.

Rich Brownstein was born in Portland, Oregon in 1962. Most of his undergraduate work at Reed College was in psychology. By the time he graduated, three of his experiments were on their way to being published in the top social psychology journals in the world. Those studies are still being cited today. During college, too, Rich was a Sunday school teacher specializing in Holocaust education and also on the board of the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center (now the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education).

A few years after college Rich moved to Los Angeles, working with Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker Productions. Rich was the associate producer on one of David Zucker’s projects, directed by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, just before they created South Park. In fact, there is a South Park character that Rich inspired.

Rich then founded The Transcription Company, starting from an apartment in Hollywood. Initially, his company transcribed the raw interviews for tabloid TV shows such as Fox’s A Current Affair, NBC’s Access Hollywood, and King World’s Inside Edition/American Journal. Eventually, every network and studio used his company, including: NPR, Oprah, ABC News, Curb Your Enthusiasm and even Playboy videos. At the end of Nightline when transcripts were offered, those were produced and processed by his company. By the time Rich sold the company in 2003 to move his family to Israel, Rich had over 100 employees and contractors.

In Israel, Rich became a professor of Jewish and Holocaust film for the Young Judaea Your Course program, accredited by the American Jewish University of Los Angeles. For a decade, Rich taught hundreds of college students during their “gap year” about film and critical reasoning. His teaching methods and theories about Holocaust films eventually came to the attention of Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies where Rich has been a lecturer since 2014, specializing in the use of narrative Holocaust films in the classroom. Thousands of educators worldwide use his methods.

Along the way Rich also sang “Louie Louie” with The Kingsmen, taught Stan Lee how to use Microsoft Word, read Shas, worked with the man who wagged the tail of the Lion in the Wizard of Oz, and Rich also accumulated the largest collection of basketball memorabilia in the world, all of it related to his beloved Portland Trail Blazers.

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