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Besa: The Promise Wins Best Documentary Award

Washington Jewish Film Festival Audience Rates Besa: The Promise as Best Documentary.

Johanna Neumann, Jason Williams, Rachel Goslins & Christine S. Romero, WJFF Q&A
Johanna Neumann, Jason Williams, Rachel Goslins & Christine S. Romero, WJFF Q&A
Feb. 11, 2013 - PRLog -- Besa: The Promise opened to two sold-out screenings in its hometown at the Washington Jewish Film Festival and took home the Audience Award for Best Documentary. At the lively Q&A following the screening, Director Rachel Goslins, Producers Jason Williams and Christine S. Romero were joined by film subject Johanna Neumann, who was rescued in Albania during WWII.  The Albanian-American Academy of Bethesda Maryland sponsored the festival screening.  The film also proved a subject of great interest for a local social group JAM DC (Jews and Muslims DC), which brought 50 members to the WJFF screening for their monthly "dinner and a movie" night.

Besa: The Promise follows the modern-day quests of two men: American photographer Norman H. Gershman and Albanian toyshop owner Rexhep Hoxha. Their parallel journeys reveal the nearly unknown WWII story of thousands of Jews rescued in Albania, a majority Muslim country.  The Albanian moral code of besa requires a promise of protection to anyone requesting it, and carries across generations.  Rexhep's father sheltered a Jewish family who left behind three precious Hebrew books.  Kept hidden during the nearly half-century of repressive communism following the war, Rexhep must now fulfill his father's besa and return the books - if he can find the family.  When Rexhep meets Norman, an unexpected drama is set in motion, uniting fathers and sons, Muslims and Jews.  The documentary was supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Bridging Cultures through Film grant and features an original score by Philip Glass.

Besa: The Promise continues its festival run with screenings at the Denver Jewish Film Festival, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and the Beaufort International Film Festival.  The Beaufort Film Society also nominated Rachel Goslins as Best Director for bringing the compelling story to light.  “Catch a cold mid-day if you have to take off work to see this film," says Teresa Bruce, recipient of the BIFF Best Screenplay Award in 2012. "This film has already racked up awards from major film festivals around the world…If you think you’ve seen all the Holocaust-related stories your heart can absorb, make room for a surprise...a dramatic plot that keeps us riveted to the individual while slowly revealing the universal.”

For a complete list of screenings, go to http://besathepromise.com/screenings.html.

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Tags:Albania, Jew, Muslim, Documentary, Award
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