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Elder Voices

ELDER VOICES is a meditation about the destructiveness of hatred and the power of love, as told by Japanese-Americans, European Jews and conscientious objectors (COs) who came of age during the perilous times of the Great Depression and WWII. For each of these individuals the challenges they confronted proved even more daunting either because of what they believed or simply who they were. Residing together in a retirement community, they continue to live the values and principles of tolerance and mutual respect that were forged in their youth-- when they were confronted with anti-Semitism, internment camps, and bigotry.

What historical lessons can young people learn from their elders? How can those lessons be applied today as we continue to strive to build a better, more just, and peaceful world? What counsel do these seniors have for young people today who shortly will be facing very difficult challenges of their own? Those watching will become immersed in a diverse and culturally enriching experience.

'We must listen to the voices of the people in this important film. If we listen, and hear, we will learn about our history and about our world today. If we listen, and learn, we will be able to create better tomorrows.' Wendy E. Chmielewski, George R. Cooley Curator, Swarthmore College Peace Collection

'This is an excellent film and so relevant for today! The theme of elder voices who survived the Nazi Holocaust and POW camps in WW2 and the Japanese Internment telling their unique, never before heard testimonies asking for our humanity today to learn to love and not hate resonated for me as a child survivor of the Holocaust. A fine film to show educationally for high school Social Studies classes. I highly recommend this.' Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff, survivor of The Nazi Holocaust, Director, Holocaust Studies Summer Institute, University of Miami, Co-author, Studying the Holocaust thru Film and Literature

'With an indelible cast of characters, Elder Voices showcases the experiences of a diverse group of courageous people who have survived hate and fascism in the past. The result is a necessary, humane documentary for our increasingly inhumane times.' Moustafa Bayoumi, Professor of English, CUNY - Brooklyn College, Author, How Does It Feel To Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America and This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror

'Notably, and unlike many other films, Elder Voices draws parallels between the Holocaust and the U.S. forced detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II. It uses firsthand narratives of men and women who lived through the actual events to not only memorialize their experiences, but also to help us understand how those experiences affected them and shaped their lives. This film will be helpful to anyone wishing to explore the connections between nationalism, hatred, violence, and wartime fear.' Rajika Shah, Deputy Director, Center for the Study of Law and Genocide, Loyola Marymount University

'Beautifully integrates current events with those of the past. The human face of struggle, survival, resistance, compassion, and hope. This film draws us in on deeply emotional and personal levels. A wake up call for our times. Unforgettable.' Ann Doubleday, Adult Services Librarian, Burnham Memorial Library

'Elder Voices is an important documentary film for anyone who has lived through trauma. It's also for those who wish to understand how trauma, and more importantly, trauma recovery, effects not only the victims, but their friends and family as well.' Jamie Wraight, Director, Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive, University of Michigan - Dearborn

'Every story is a gripping description of terrifying experiences...Seeds of hate are always ready to germinate, and we must be willing to actively weed our garden. Peace is our business.' Bob Edelson, Medford Leas Life

'Elder Voices is a documentary that can help educators...Sharing oral histories of trauma and their lives thereafter, elder crisis survivors show and teach us that long stories of resilience can grow from difficult and important short stories of people and groups who experience social injustice.' Michael Polgar, Associate Professor of Sociology, Social Sciences and Education, Pennsylvania State University, Author, Holocaust and Human Rights Education: Good Choices and Sociological Perspectives

'At a time when we are besieged by strident divisiveness and competing agendas, Elder Voices provides both welcome refuge and a wise warning...The film's warning - that a history unacknowledged and left unaddressed is bound to repeat itself - is balanced by the inspirational stories of these elders, who recount the small acts of bravery and moments of compassion and spiritual strength that helped them endure anti-Semitism, racism, unjustified incarceration, and the constant threat of death without losing hope that humankind would find a more peaceful and tolerant way of life for all.' Joanne Bernardi, Professor of Japanese Studies and Film and Media Studies, University of Rochester

'Compelling - what an amazing, inspiring and extraordinary group of people! As this remarkable film makes clear, their stories have much to teach us about our present moment, in which the frightening upsurge in nationalism, racism and xenophobia has created a veritable powder keg of hatred and intolerance.' Erin McGlothlin, Chair, Germanic Languages and Literatures, Associate Professor, German and Jewish Studies, Washington University in St. Louis, Author, Second-Generation Holocaust Literature: Legacies of Survival and Perpetration

'Elder Voices makes a compelling case for viewers today to speak out against present day injustices. We are introduced to a diverse community of senior citizens who, despite all their apparent differences, are united in their commitment to end war, genocide, unjust detention, and other forms of violence rooted in racism and other forms of discrimination. These wise elders ultimately articulate an interfaith vision of our shared humanity, and express the need for all of us to speak for those who are so easily cast aside because of their perceived differences.' Daniel Reynolds, Professor of Modern Languages, Chair of German Studies, Grinnell College, Author, Postcards from Auschwitz: Holocaust Tourism and the Meaning of Remembrance

'The people featured in Elder Voices have suffered persecution, oppression, and genocide, but they have not been broken...An inspiring and important story of the human spirit. This powerful short film would be ideal to generate community and classroom discussions about what we need to learn from our past and how each of us has a responsibility to stand up for what is right.' Renee Romano, Professor of History, Africana Studies and Comparative American Studies, Oberlin College


Main credits

Goodman, David (film director)
Goodman, David (film producer)
Goodman, David (screenwriter)
Mullally, Sharon (screenwriter)
Mullally, Sharon (editor of moving image work)
Tegnell, Ann (screenwriter)
Tegnell, Ann (editor of moving image work)

Other credits

Cinematography, Edwin Martinez, Daniel Traub; editors, Sharon Mullally, Ann Tegnell; music, Lillian Samdal.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Citizenship and Civics
Civil Rights
European Studies
Global Issues
Human Rights
Jewish Studies
Migration and Refugees
Political Science
Race and Racism
Social Psychology
War and Peace


japanese americans, european jews, peace activists, conscientious objectors, great depression, WWII, retirement community, Medford Leas, tolerance, mutual respect, anti-semitism, internment camps, bigotry, fascism, Byberry Mental Hospital, Voorhees Mosque, Inge Raven, Ernest Kaufman, Sumiko Kobayashi, Colette Bartholomew, Evert Bartholomew, John Bartholomew, George Rubin, Kit Ellenbogen, Warren Sawyer, Charleston, Pittsburgh, Mexican-US border, refugees, migration, Kristallnacht, concentration camps, Vienna, Dachau, Buchenwald, gestapo, Berlin, germans, jewish immigration, president Roosevelt, Nazis, Pearl Harbor, Tanforan, Nuremberg, holocaust, holocaust survivor; "Elder Voices"; Bullfrog Films

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