The strength to make the right decision and the gift of a virtuous leader frame the film "Weapons of Spirit," based on a true story of survival during World War II. The film will be screened in the Ukrop Auditorium in Queally Hall at 6:30 p.m. on April 17.
The documentary focuses on a small, Protestant, farming community in southern France, a country largely controlled by the Nazis during World War II, Andrew Goodman, campus Rabbi and director of Jewish life, said. A pastor in the community came forward and said that supporting the Nazis was not right and he inspired the community to stand up and help, Goodman said.
"You wouldn't expect them to be the up-standers, but they followed along because they had this really strong leader," he said, "and this village of about 5,000 people saved about 5,000 Jews."
During a class discussion about the Holocaust with Linda Radi, a French, Italian and modern literature and cultures professor , freshman Melissa Diamond said her grandmother was a Holocaust survivor who was one of the people hidden by this community in France. Radi and Diamond joined with Goodman to bring the film to campus.
Diamond's grandmother, Francelyne Lurie, will speak at the screening and answer questions after the film along with Nelly Trocme Hewett, the daughter of the community's pastor.
Lurie and Hewett met after both had moved to Minnesota and late in life discovered their connection, Diamond said.
"I think that their story and how they came together after all of it shows ... good things came out of a bad situation rather than most of the information that people get about [the Holocaust], which is just about constant death and tragedy," Diamond said.
Both Diamond and Goodman stressed the importance that the film and story have on Richmond students. As more Holocaust survivors are dying, Diamond emphasized how meeting one is becoming rarer. Goodman, in turn, discussed the lessons of the film.
"I think it's important for us to continue to tell the stories of the Holocaust, to remember the messages and to remember that it's really easy to be a bystander and let things happen, Goodman said, "but there's also a lot of really important lessons of leadership that we have to learn from the Holocaust."
The film relates to the Virginia Holocaust Museum tour and dinner, which were held in February. Goodman said they were held together because both focused on the idea that a person's actions really can make a difference.
To him, both explored "what does it mean to be a real leader and to make difficult decisions that are the right decisions even if it means potential threat or potential danger, or just being unpopular."
The screening is open to the entire campus and to the public. A shorter version of the film, which ends with an inteview between director, Pierre Sauvage, and Bill Moyer, will be shown, Goodman said. Following the screening, there will be question and answer opportunities as well as a reception.
Contact staff writer Maria Rajtik at email@example.com