Johnathan Andrews Interview With Caxton Newspaper

Johnathan Andrews Film Project In Caxton Newspaper

Johnathan Andrews Interview Article Publication Date: 1 May 2019
Publication: Bedfordview and Edenvale News

This is a digital copy of the “exclusive to print” article by Stephan Lehman and follow-up comments by Johnathan Andrews.


Bedfordview and Edenvale News Article

Tales of suffering reach the big screen

Modderfontein resident and filmmaker Jonathan Andrews is set to release his next film later this year.

Johnathan Andrews Caxton Newspaper Article

Johnathan Andrews article in the Bedfordview Edenvale News.

The film Mordechai Perlov – I Survived Stalin During WWII is Jonathan’s third film release under #GETPeaceProject.

The film tells the story of Mordechai, a 92-year-old Lithuanian Jew who was deported to a gulag in Northern Russia and eventually made his way to South Africa.

“The latest film is similar to my others but different at the same time,” said Jonathan. “It shares themes of the Holocaust and World War Two but takes place in a communist regime.” Jonathan believes the stories of those persecuted living in the Soviet Union is not as frequently told. Briefly describing the film Jonathan said Mordechai and his family were declared enemies of the Soviet Union, arrested and sent to the gulag. Mordechai was later sent to a work camp where he chopped trees in winter temperatures of minus 40 C.

At the age of 15, Mordechai escaped the camp and returned to the gulag only to find his parents dead but his sister alive. Jonathan said said while producing the film he met with representatives of the Melrose Jewish community who emphasised the need to tell stories of those persecuted but encouraged Jonathan to make Mordechai the hero of the story.

During the film’s production Jonathan worked closely with the Lithuanian Embassy in Pretoria, Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre and the Lithuanian Jewish community.

“Next year the Lithuanian government is set to honour the country’s Jewish history by declaring 2020 the year of the Vilna Gaon. “I am in discussion to get the film endorsed so that will be part of the celebrations.” In addition to this, Jonathan and Mordechai are in communication with movie houses in Sydney, London, Israel, Washington, New York and Lithuania to have the film screened overseas. If an agreement is reached Mordechai Perlov- I Survived Stalin During WWII will premiere worldwide.

“My personal hope is that this film is my best work not only as a finished production but through collaboration with stakeholders. “I want to inspire others to do similar projects. Oral history is dying and the people in my films are some of the last alive.”

Jonathan said the film is ready to be released but he would still like to add additional storytelling elements to it.

One element he would like to include is the musical talents of South Africa artists or groups. The music will be used in the film’s trailer, soundtrack and during the pivotal moments. “This would ultimately be a passion project so we are looking for someone hoping to make a name for themselves and volunteer.

Mordechai Perlov- I Survived Stalin During WWII is set to premiere at Ster Kinekor Theatres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town in November.”

Photo Caption: Modderfontein resident and filmmaker Jonathan Andrews met with the NEWS to discuss his latest film Mordechai Perlov- I Survived Stalin During WWII.


Johnathan Andrews Comments

Johnathan Andrews with newspaper reporter.

Stephan Lehman (left), Johnathan Andrews (right)

Johnathan Andrews was happy to meet Stephan during April to talk about a film-in-the-making. The article comes in the middle of the production of the new film by Johnathan Andrews entitled Mordechai Perlov – I Survived Stalin During WWII.

“The film about Mordechai Perlov is indeed the third film under the hashtag #GETPeaceProject, but different to the first two. Both The Story of Lina Amato as well as The Secret Survivor are films in which I feature stories from WWII survivors of the Holocaust. Even though Mordechai (a Jew) was arrested and deported during WWII, he was not arrested or deported by the Nazis. His suffering during the war was under the communist regime of Stalin.”

The format of the film is similar to the first two films in that the survivor tells the story, historians provide context and historical information, and archival footage is used as much as possible. Johnathan believes that this is a powerful formula to not only share a survivor’s testimony, but also to provide the audience with facts and context to better understand the story.

“I am working on the project with Annalisa Ferrari who is playing a key role in research as well as assisting in the process of contextualizing the story. It is a massive task to assemble information and to work through the archives,” Andrews said. “At this stage the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre is not collaborating in the film project, but if the JHGC agrees to provide historical input to use as part of the film, it will constitute a very important element of the production.”

“The film is a passion project and I am calling for South African musicians, composers and music groups to collaborate in the production. We need music for the film and this is a perfect opportunity for publicity and exposure in the international arena!”

The article refers to “close collaboration with the Embassy of Lithuania.” Andrews stated that he is looking forward to visiting Vilnius within the next few weeks. The visit to Lithuania is being arranged in collaboration with The Embassy of Lithuania in South Africa. As a vital part of the “story telling elements” which are at present being added to the film, Johnathan intends to film interviews with historians in Lithuania which will form an important part of the film.

The first archival footage for the film has already been obtained from the USHMM (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.) “The USHMM has been the most important source of archival footage to me which I have used in both of the previous films. One of the other objectives of my visit to Lithuania is be to conduct research in the historical archives to determine whether there is additional footage which could be used in the film,” Andrews explained.

Johnathan Andrews in community meeting about film.“It was indeed a great experience meeting with members of the Jewish community in Melrose to talk about the film project. My aim was to get answers to some questions that I had about aspects of the film, and I wanted these answers from people in the community. Questions included aspects surrounding the central message that the film should have as well as aspects relating to the film premiere events which are planned for November 2019 in South Africa,” Andrews said. “The outcome of the meeting was positive and insightful in many ways, but I am not going to give it all away here,” he continued.

“The days that I spent with Mordechai filming his story is unforgettable and the many meeting and conversations that we had since those first days have all been memorable and special in various ways. I am getting to know him as a tough, determined and wise business man with a good sense of understanding of people and how to work with them.”

In conclusion Andrews said, “I am looking forward to the conclusion of the project and I am very excited about the prospect that the very first film premiere may be in Sydney, Australia on 7 November 2019! Follow me on social media to stay up to date about developments.”

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