Michael Pertnoy and Michael Kleiman
Miami and New York City
Michael Pertnoy and Michael Kleiman came to the genocide prevention movement through different paths, both legacies of the Holocaust. Pertnoy was moved by visits to the concentration camps in Poland. Kleiman was personally acquainted with the issue, having grandparents who fled Belgium during the Nazi invasion.
As genocide unfolded in Sudan, the two filmmakers set out to connect the lessons of the past with the humanitarian crisis of the present. They began making a documentary called The Last Survivor that follows the lives of genocide survivors of the Holocaust, Rwanda, and Sudan, as well as survivors of the violent conflict in the Congo. “By focusing on the commonalities of the experiences of these individuals both as survivors and, more broadly as human beings, the film seeks to illuminate the many warning signs that often signal impending violence long before it starts as well as our deep-rooted connections as human beings,” Pertnoy explains.
Another goal of the film was to combat the “eraser effect” that genocide intends. Perpetrators of genocide often seek to destroy an entire people and wipe out their way of life. Kleiman notes, “as documentary filmmakers, we are specifically enthralled with notions of preservation and cinema’s capacity to not only bear witness, but to document – to serve as a keeper of memories for future generations.”
The film will be released in the summer of 2009 to nationwide screenings and a guest speaker program including the film’s characters, the filmmakers, survivors, activists and prominent politicians. In the meantime, those who wish to host their own local screenings can find out more at http://righteouspictures.com/ (external link).
In addition to the film, the two are writing a bi-weekly blog, www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-pertnoy-and-michael-kleiman (external link), about the film’s characters and their experience making the documentary.
To learn more about this film, please visit www.thelastsurvivor.com (external link).