A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY: Sam Harris, One of the Youngest Survivors of the Holocaust

20 Oct
Holocaust Survivor Sam Harris as a Young Boy

It is hard to imagine the emotional and physical suffering of a young boy, who, between the ages of seven and nine and a half, had to hide in two different concentration camps because, if found, he would have been killed. It is hard to imagine that this boy – Sammy – would grow up to be the joyful, generous, positive and resilient adult that Sam Harris is today.  Despite his suffering, Sam has thrived.

What  is not hard to imagine, is why Eric Cosh and I, after hearing Sam’s story, felt compelled to make a documentary film about him. Getting to know Sam Harris, was for us, a journey of discovery. Having the privilege to get to know someone who had gone through so much and had emerged with a strong desire to celebrate the gift of life was an extraordinary experience. Sam’s curiosity about others and about the world in general, and his limitless caring for others, is, indeed, inspiring. So it is not hard to imagine why we wanted other people to hear Sam’s story, too, and also get to know him.

Eric Cosh filmed my interview of Sam – a conversation, really –  in March 2013, which lasted for more than three hours. This was followed by research and more and more research. Eric filmed a lot of relevant material and we also had to go through the lengthy process of  finding and acquiring additional visual material. We also interviewed many other people. We most certainly got to know Sam.

Then came the editorial decisions – many of them.  But we always knew one thing for sure: we did not want to intrude on Sam’s account of his experiences. We wanted him to be center stage because we knew he was a powerful, magnetic, moving and credible storyteller. He was our bright, shining star and a bright light for all viewers. Getting to know Sam  would be a Journey of Discovery for all.

– Ellen Palestrant

2 Responses to “A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY: Sam Harris, One of the Youngest Survivors of the Holocaust”

  1. Victoria October 20, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    Sam Harris is a story-teller. That is to say, he distils and weaves together his experiences of horror, loss, kindness, forgiveness and hope in such a compelling way that I felt changed by his account, enlarged, enriched. And deeply saddened. This DVD, this narrative of one man’s triumph of spirit, is powerful not only because of what Sam endured. Not only because of how he endured. But because it resonates with humanity, the humanity that is the very core of him. It is that humanity that Ellen Palestrant and Eric Cosh have captured so skillfully. In Ellen’s face we see mirrored Sammy’s emotions as he recalls, with dignity, his boyhood in a concentration camp, his emergence at the end of the war, and his later adoption by a family in America. It is in, and through, Ellen’s eyes and facial expressions that we feel the rawness of Sammy’s pain, the enormity of his loss. Her questions facilitate, ease the viewer through Sam’s life, with gentle, non-intrusive, nudges. His and her humanity fuse, creating a work of historical import brought into being through Eric Cosh’s artful editing and nuanced selection of period footage. Watch it!

    • Sammy The Journey October 20, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

      Victoria – your insightful comments are much appreciated. You have a remarkable insight into “Sammy” – Sam Harris – and what Eric Cosh and I set out to achieve when we made this documentary. Thank you for taking the time to write this thoughtful review of our movie.

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