Opening night film for JCC festival about Israeli Air Force of 1948 Produced by the “other” Spielberg

by | Dec 5, 2014 | What’s Happening

Saturday, Jan. 17, 7:30 pm, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts

Above and Beyond is about bravery and courage of the “Top Guns” in the Israeli Air Force. When Producer Nancy Spielberg came across an obituary of the “Father” of this air force, she was startled to read he was an American, a flight engineer for TWA. He smuggled the first planes into Israel and recruited volunteer pilots to fly these planes in the 1948 war.

Since this man, Al Schwimmer, died at 94, Spielberg knew that time was of the essence. The pilots all had to be in their 90s. “I needed to hire a team and film interviews before we lost any more of these men to the Grim Reaper,” she says. “I wanted the film not to be about machines, but rather about the human spirit, about those …guys who felt a responsibility to help a brother in need.”

This film, Above and Beyond, has been chosen for the opening night of this year’s Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma* and Howard Laderberg.

“My first task was to find a director,” says Spielberg. “Roberta Grossman’s name came from multiple sources.” Grossman, who directed the festival’s 2013 opening night movie, Hava Nagila, will be in Virginia Beach to field questions after the film.

“We are honored to have such an acclaimed director as Roberta Grossman here in Virginia Beach,” says Mark Robbins, Film Festival chair. “She is sure to be a big draw for opening night.”

An award-winning filmmaker with a passion for history and social justice, Grossman has written and produced more than 40 hours of documentary television in addition to directing several films. She was the series producer and co-writer of 500 Nations, the eight-hour CBS mini-series on Native Americans hosted by Kevin Costner. Grossman’s feature documentary, Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action, premiered in February 2005, and has screened and won awards at more than 40 festivals worldwide.

Says Spielberg, “The joke Roberta often tells is that whenever her phone would ring in the office, she would say, ‘If it’s Spielberg, tell him I’ll call him back.’ Next thing she knew, there was a voice message from the other Spielberg. She thought someone was pulling her leg and actually called a friend to check me out.” The two women clicked and the rest is, well, a wrap.

“I am grateful that we were able to capture the pilots’ stories and share them with the world,” says Spielberg. “Their legacy will stay with us and be taught for generations to come. Their families are very proud, as are all the men and women who volunteered for Israel in 1948—some 3,500 individuals from every corner of the globe. We are honored to tell one part of this extraordinary story.”

A reception will follow the film.

For tickets and other information, contact Michele Goldberg, director of Cultural Arts at 757-321-2341.

The Simon Family JCC is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. *of blessed memory

by Leslie Shroyer