In May 1939, the MS St Louis left Hamburg bound to Cuba. Havana unexpectedly denied the landing permit. Days later, Washington denied it too. The lives of more than 900 German Jewish passengers took a dramatic turn.
Arno Motulsky, Harvey Moser, Judith Steel, or Egon Salmon were a few of the German Jewish children aboard.
Today, Dr. Motulsky is widely credited as the father of Pharmacogenetics and one of the country’s most respected scientists; Dr. Moser, had a long and successful career as a dermatologist, teacher, and supporter of his NY community; Judith Steel, is a cantor at her synagogue in Queens, NY, and reaches out to people of all faiths; And Mr. Salmon settled in the Tri-State area and setup a real estate development company, now run by his sons.
The producers of the film - motivated in part by their own recent emigration from a growingly Anti-Semitic environment in their native Venezuela - set out to explore human dimension of the Saint Louis from the perspective of the survivors as they reflect back on their lives. We unveil, what went on aboard the St. Louis, as frantic efforts were made on board and ashore, to get them a landing permit somewhere other than in Germany.But mostly, we found inspiring stories marked by sacrifice, loss, effort, chance, opportunity, hope and revival that surface in the survivors’ own intimate recollections.
Fresh insights are provided by a list of top Anti-Semitism and Human Rights experts that include the voices of:
Scott Miller, Director of Curatorial Affairs, US Memorial Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC.
Charles Asher Small, Director ofISGAP Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism and Policy.
Dan Mariaschin, Executive Vice/president B’nai Brith international.
Mary-Claire King, professor of genome science and medical genetics at the University of Washington in Seattle
Eric Fusfield, head of congressional affairs B’nai Brith International Washington DC
Irving Cotler, MP Canada, former attorney general and former minister of justice of Canada.
Turned Away is a universal story of refugees and human rights that has echo in today’s events, and impact in legislation and executive decisions.It gives new meaning to a lifetime of individual struggle, hope, and success and makes one wonder about what societies miss out when refugees are abandoned to their fate.
About the Filmmakers
Daniel Benaim / Executive Producer-Director
Benaim is a multi-award winning producer, media entrepreneur and director of thousands of commercial television hours and documentaries for major Latin American cable and broadcast channels.His career spans 3 decades in successfully producing and directing TV, radio and film and e-media. He served as President of the Venezuelan Chamber of Commercial Video and Film, and was Media Affairs Director for the Venezuelan Jewish community. He relocated to the US in 2010 and is spearheading several media production projects.
Stan Jacubowicz / Co-producer-Director
Stan is a multimedia entertainment executive. His first short film, “Distance”, narrated by Academy Award winning actress, Ellen Burstyn, earned awards at top international film festivals. His first feature, “La mujer de mi hermano” was a box office success in Latin America and Hispanic US, released by Twentieth Century Fox and Lionsgate. His second film "The German Doctor" was Argentina's official submission for the Oscars and Golden Globes.He produced the documentary “Tasered: The Israel Hernandez Story”, a controversial look at police brutality in the US.His third feature film success, “Visitantes” was released by Televisa in Mexico in December of 2014.
Sammy Eppel / Executive Producer
Past Member of governing body of Venezuelan Jewish community and Director of the Human Rights Commission of B'nai Brith Venezuela. Distinguished columnist, expert on Judeophobia. Lecturer and presenter on Anti-Semitism at major World Forums, Latin American desk of ISGAP (Institute for the study of Global anti-Semitism and policy), Latin American co-chair of the Global Forum to Combat Anti-Semitism of the MFA Israel. Board member of HILC (Hispanic Israel leadership Coalition). Co-chair of Latino Jewish roundtable, a Jewish and Evangelical pro-Israel organization.
Fernando Duprat / Executive Producer-Post Production Director
Fernando Duprat is a marketing professional with over a quarter century of experience in television, video production and post-production, live event production, outdoor advertising and more. He is the founder of Nexus Productions in Caracas, Venezuela, and directs Nexus+Digiprint, a live event and market activation company located in Florida. He is also actively involved in the cultural life of Miami through his work with the Miami Symphony Orchestra.