Back in June, Four Seasons Lodge had its world premiere at Silverdocs. When realscreen met with first-time director Andrew Jacobs, he had a lot on his plate. It was the first major screening of his film, a labor of love stemming from an article he’d written for The New York Times, about a group of Holocaust survivors who make yearly retreats to a bungalow community in the Catskill mountains of New York.
An incredible bit of luck brought about this film. Jacobs had been (and still is) a Times staff writer when he did the story on the group of affable senior citizens living in their bungalows in the Catskills. Learning it was their last year at the bungalows, Jacobs realized he needed to preserve the story in a better medium. He opted against a book, which wouldn’t portray their personalities the same way, so Jacobs turned to film. ‘It seemed to be the thing to try to do,’ he says.
But Jacobs had only amateur videographer status and didn’t know how to edit, so going from a writer to a filmmaker had its challenges. ‘The time, my god, its killing me. I’ve maintained a full time job the whole time so it has really been [busy] raising the money and organizing your crew and a million details of organizing a shoot and the technological aspects and then finding your story and editing. It was just a huge learning curve. I mean I had help, I wasn’t doing it alone.’
Some of that help involved the legendary Albert Maysles. He came on board after a friend of Jacobs met Maysles after a film school lecture. ‘We just called Albert’s office up and asked to make an appointment to pitch a project to him. He was remarkably open to it.’ After a 15 minute slot to pitch, where Jacobs had no film and nothing to base it on, Maysles was in. ‘He seemed really moved. I think there’s something immediately compelling about the community of Holocaust survivors, the fact there is such a thing, is interesting in and of itself.’
At Silverdocs, Jacobs was hoping for a distributor for his film, which he clarified was not just a Jewish film, but a multi-generational crowd pleaser. ‘I think there’s something unconventional about a Holocaust film where you can laugh. It’s not a Holocaust movie but has a Holocaust theme,’ he said at the time.
Currently Jacobs is looking for a distributor and screening the film at festivals, which include the UK Jewish Film Festival and the Miami Jewish film festivals as well as completing a few tweaks in the editing room. For more information, visit the website.