Henri Dauman: Looking Up


Henri Dauman: Looking Up is a story about survival, perseverance, and a little luck in the face of adversity. The documentary will chronicle one man’s inspiring journey to America and the life he cultivated for himself. After escaping the perils of the Holocaust in France, Henri rose to become one of the preeminent photojournalists of the 20th Century.

Born April 5, 1933 in Paris, Henri was 9 years old when the war broke out. The French police took his father, Charles, to a work camp, but Henri and his mother Chana were able to escape to the French countryside. Though they were separated throughout the duration of the war, Henri and his mother managed to survive and return to Paris. Henri’s mother made tireless efforts to find Charles after the war, but there was no trace of him. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Henri learned that his father had been taken to Auschwitz where he died after surviving in the concentration camp for 3 months. Shortly after settling back into a post-war Paris, Henri’s mother died tragically, poisoned by the local pharmacist. Nine other people would die this way, and while it was rumored that the pharmacist was antisemitic, he was never convicted. Henri was orphaned at 13 and immigrated to New York City at age 17.

Henri discovered photography through his life-long love affair with cinema. With no formal schooling, Henri was forced to develop his craft entirely on his own. What emerged is a body of work anchored by a cinematic thread that weaved life and movement into every inch of his photographs; it is what separates Henri’s photography from his contemporaries.

Henri’s work is an extraordinary, invaluable visual record that reflects American and European styles, urban landscapes, cultural values, political concerns, and icons of the twentieth century. Henri didn’t just photograph these icons, he had enlightened discussions with his subjects; he learned from them, and about them, in ways that enriched his life and informed his art. He walked away from these experiences with not just photographs, but a plethora of stories gained from discussing life, love, art, and politics with luminaries such as Andy Warhol, Elvis Presley, Jane Fonda, Marshall McLuhan, Harpo Marx, JFK, Marilyn Monroe, and many more.

His story is about creating timeless art, learning about life from the icons he photographed, overcoming unfathomable tragedies, and the true, tangible difference that anyone, man or woman, can have on the world.

Film website: www.daumanpictures.com/lookingup

About the Filmmakers

Peter Jones - Director

Peter discovered Henri Dauman’s photography in November 2014 at Henri’s retrospective exhibition in Paris. The cinematic flare that saturated Henri’s photography immediately left an imprint on Peter. After engaging in a conversation with Henri, Peter was fascinated by Henri’s life experiences and he knew that Henri’s story was one that needed to be shared. With Peter’s ten year experience in the film industry, and with his exposure of being the assistant to two major motion picture directors, he is enthusiastic to create a film that parallels Henri’s meticulous artistry & remarkable life.

Nicole Suerez - Producer

Nicole has been inspired by Henri her whole life, because for Nicole, Henri is more than a brilliant photographer, he’s her incredible grandfather. Having grown up and experienced Henri’s passion for life and art first hand, there is nothing more important to her than sharing Henri’s story. While Nicole, by trade, has been a Costume Designer in the film industry for the past five years, her dream has been to tell her grandfather’s incredible story, and has become the producer for this feature documentary. Nicole has a passion for all aspects of film and she is excited to embark on this new endeavor of her career.

Roland Smith - Producer and DP

Roland was lucky to become part of the project in 2015 after meeting Peter and Nicole in Henri’s home town of New York City. He was immediately impressed by Henri’s talent and extensive body of work, but not until he actually heard Henri’s story was he truly captivated. For Roland, Henri’s undying passion and dedication serve as true inspiration, especially given Roland’s affinity for photography and cinematography. Having produced and shot another feature-length documentary, “Ty’s List,” that premiered in summer of 2015, Roland has been itching to jump into another meaningful project, and “Looking Up” is the perfect fit.

Will Keesee - Producer

Born and raised in New York City, Will grew up in the shadow of millions upon millions of diverse characters, each with a unique story to tell. Documentary film has always intrigued him because the medium allows people to tell their stories in their own words. Having heard the details of Henri’s life and accomplishments, he instantly knew this was a story the world needed to hear and it only took one meeting with Henri to know the man himself was the only person to tell it. He couldn’t feel more honored to work on such a special project with this talented and dedicated group of individuals.

Donate to the Production of Henri Dauman: Looking Up

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The National Center for Jewish Film
Brandeis University, Lown 102 MS053
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