GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS.

X

Boulder-produced ‘The Tattooed Torah’ brings renowned children’s book about the Holocaust to screen

Produced by Lisa Effress, animated short will be a part of the virtual Denver Jewish Film Fest that kicks off Monday

A still from the 2019 animated short “The Tattooed Torah.” The animated short, produced by Lisa Effress, will be shown as part of the Denver Jewish Film Festival that starts Monday. (The Tattooed Torah/ Courtesy photo)
A still from the 2019 animated short “The Tattooed Torah.” The animated short, produced by Lisa Effress, will be shown as part of the Denver Jewish Film Festival that starts Monday. (The Tattooed Torah/ Courtesy photo)
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

The Denver Jewish Film Festival, presented by The JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center, kicks off Monday and while this year the event is being done in a virtual format, it is still offering a large selection of works that will make viewers laugh, cry, ponder and rejoice.

A still from the 2019 animated short “The Tattooed Torah.” The animated short, produced by Boulder’s Lisa Effress, will be shown as part of the Denver Jewish Film Festival that starts Monday. (The Tattooed Torah/ Courtesy photo)

Ticketholders can watch 21 feature films and 10 shorts showcasing Israeli and Jewish cinema from 14 countries through Feb. 17.

Individual film tickets are $12 per household and all-access festival passes were $180, but have already sold out. A “Passport to Israel” pass includes one household ticket to 10 of the films for $100.

“The Tattooed Torah,” a short based on the 1983 book of the same name that has been teaching children about the Holocaust for generations, is one of this year’s offerings. Recently added to the Oscars’ 2021 Best Animated Short Films list, the beautifully crafted short continues to receive praise from fans and critics — much like its literary predecessor by author Marvell Ginsburg.

The short film — a three-generational endeavor — was initiated by Ginsburg’s daughter, Beth Kopin, and the screenplay was co-written by Ginsburg’s grandson, Brett Kopin.

With enthralling animation by Jeffrey Pittle and Christian Robins that brought the work of illustrator Martin Lemelman to life, plus a thrilling score and narration by actor and former president of the Screen Actors Guild, Ed Asner, it’s easy to see why “The Tattooed Torah” has taken home multiple awards and continues to captivate audiences of all ages throughout the world.

Boulder resident Lisa Effress holds her daughter Eva, who was 8 at the time, near Chautauqua. Effress, managing partner at the Boulder location of 11 Dollar Bill, a post-production studio, produced the 2019 animated short “The Tattooed Torah.” The short is being shown as part of the Denver Jewish Film Festival that runs virtually from Monday to Feb. 17. (Marla Rutherford/ Courtesy photo)

We caught up with Boulder resident Lisa Effress — producer of the compelling short and managing partner at post-production studio 11 Dollar Bill — to find out what her experience was like being a part of this project, the reaction her daughter had to the movie and what themes she would like to explore in future work.

Daily Camera: Just from watching the trailer for “The Tattooed Torah” it looks like a beautiful film with awesome visuals and such a pertinent message. What inspired you to produce this short and what was your experience like working on it?

Lisa Effress: When I first learned about this opportunity through my dear friend and the film’s director, Marc Bennett, I immediately said yes for many reasons, but mainly because of my daughter. She was 4 at the time, she’s 9 now, and I hadn’t really thought about how or when I’d introduce the subject of the Holocaust to her. It’s such an important subject and can easily be scary at that tender age, so when I thought about having a children’s film to use as a resource, I was inspired.  And, Eva has been with me throughout this production process every step of the way.  She has been my best critic and greatest resource so it was a win-win all around. Working on the film has been wonderful. The entire crew is amazing and we have all bonded over our little film in so many ways. I have much love and appreciation for Beth (Kopin) and Brett (Kopin) and their desire to bring Marvell’s (Ginsburg’s) book to the big screen, and to Marc (Bennett) for trusting me with this precious project.

A still from the 2019 animated short “The Tattooed Torah.” The animated short, produced by Lisa Effress, will be shown as part of the Denver Jewish Film Festival that starts Monday. (The Tattooed Torah/ Courtesy photo)

DC: This seems like a work that could appeal to both children and adults. What was your daughter’s response to the short?

LE: She knows how hard I worked on this and to be able to see her pride when it was over was really amazing. She was beaming and said, “Mom, you’re famous!” Eva is a very curious child and she asks a lot of questions. So her thoughts about the little boy and the Torah, and whether or not he had his bar mitzvah, etc.— those were some of the questions she had and that let me know she got it. And, her face let me know she loved it even though it didn’t have any wizards or dreamy teenage vampires in it. She also mentioned how it didn’t feel like 20 minutes and that it went by super fast. So that tells me it’s not too long for kids her age who have a short attention span.

DC: What are you hoping viewers take away from the short?

LE: My hope is that all kinds of people — adults, children, educators — recognize the value of this film as an educational resource and that they use it to teach generations to come. As anti-Semitism surges, we must never let the memory of the Holocaust fade and I believe this film can help with that.

DC: What would you say was the most rewarding aspect of creating a project that shines a light on this part of history?

LE: The most rewarding part of making this film has been the outpouring of support we’ve received from educators from all over the world. It not only gives us credibility, but it truly has made our dreams for this film come true. It has also been amazing to collaborate with my work partners, John Polk and Christian Robins. We obviously collaborate all the time on all sorts of projects, but because this one was so special to me — being able to share it with them and the rest of our office was incredibly meaningful.

Boulder resident Lisa Effress holds her daughter Eva, who was 5 at the time, near Chautauqua. Effress, managing partner at the Boulder location of 11 Dollar Bill, a post-production studio, produced the 2019 animated short “The Tattooed Torah.” The short is being shown as part of the Denver Jewish Film Festival that runs virtually from Monday to Feb. 17. (Marla Rutherford/ Courtesy photo)

DC: Has being a part of this project motivated you to want to work on more films with Jewish-centric themes or perhaps animation in the future?

LE: I manage a post production studio, 11 Dollar Bill, and we do animation work all the time but we’ve never done an animated short film — and the fact that it’s a children’s film makes it even more special. I would love to do more film projects with Jewish-centric themes and I look forward to every opportunity. Currently, I’m producing a feature-length documentary about how, despite all the good intentions of memorializing and catchphrases like “Never Again,” genocide continues to reoccur somewhere around the globe about once per decade. Never becomes now. We are all potential victims and we are all potential perpetrators. But, by following an annual bike ride from Auschwitz to Krakow and by talking to historians, survivors, scientists and educators, we learn that we already have the tools within us to inoculate ourselves from the impulse to dehumanize others so that we can start working on preventing the next genocide.