Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Special showing of 'BESA: The Promise'

 


The Holocaust Center in Maitland has announced a partnership with the Global Peace Film Festival, Rizwan Zaman on behalf of the Holocaust Center, The Islamic Society of Central Florida and the Enzian Theater to present a special screening of the documentary “BESA: The Promise” on Sunday, Nov. 3, at 12 p.m.

It is a part of Central Florida’s Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht—the beginning of Hitler’s Final Solution. A remarkable group of arts and cultural organizations are hosting a series of events to promote respect and diversity in our society, and to empower our community to speak out against injustice. More information about the community-wide collaboration is online at Kristallnacht2013.org.

The film explores the never-before-told story of the Muslims of Nazi-occupied Albania who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during World War II. The story is told through the experiences of two men joined together in a remarkable and unexpected quest: Norman H. Gershman, a renowned Jewish-American photographer, and Rexhep Hoxha, a Muslim-Albanian toy-shop owner. When these two men meet, an extraordinary and utterly unexpected personal drama is set in motion—one that bridges generations and religions...uniting fathers and sons...Muslims and Jews.

 During the Holocaust, Albanian families—following their strong national tradition of “besa,” which is often translated as a promise or word of honor, offered safety to people in need, thus saving the lives of Jews living in Albania and those fleeing from other nations. Hoxha’s family was among these remarkable rescuers, and one of his goals is to return precious books to members of the Jewish family his father sheltered during the Holocaust, fulfilling a promise he made to his father many years before.

Hoxha began the journey to find the Aladjem family without any idea where they had finally settled. With detective work, a bit of luck, and the determination to fulfill his promise, Hoxha and his son travel to Palestine, a journey brilliantly documented by Gershman and his crew.  Gershman, who grew up in New Jersey in a community with Lithuanians, Italians, Polish and Jewish people, seemed born to question why coexistence was so difficult—a philosophical quest that made him determined to document the bravery and compassion of the Albanians toward others.

To date, “Besa: The Promise” has received numerous awards, including the Special Jury Award at the 13th Festival of Albanian Film, Best Documentary at the 2013 Washington Jewish Festival and the 2013 Seattle Jewish Film Festival, and Best Documentary and Best Director at the 2013 Beaufort International Film Festival. With this film, Gershman shares this belief: “This little country, doing what they did, they have something to teach the world.”

 Additional information about the film, including ticket information, can be found at both Enzian.com and Holocaustedu.org or by calling 407-628-0555.

 

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