TCU dance professor’s Holocaust feature film, “Sh’ma: A Story of Survival,” gets its world premiere in New York

By David ArkinOctober 7, 2023October 13th, 2023No Comments

TCU dance professor’s Holocaust feature film, “Sh’ma: A Story of Survival,” gets its world premiere in New York

The feature film “Sh’ma: A Story of Survival,” produced by a TCU dance professor and based on the story of her mother’s survival in a Nazi concentration camp, will have its world premiere Oct. 19 in New York.

The dance film, produced by Dr. Suki John, will premiere at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, she said in an interview. The film will be livestreamed beginning at 6 p.m. CDT at mjhnyc.org, but won’t be taped for later viewing, John said.

“I’m really thrilled to show this film in New York, because it is such an important location for both the dance community and the Jewish community, as well as for me personally,” John said. “I still have a lot of family and friends there. It is wonderful. It’s like home to me to show it in New York.”

More than three decades after first presenting her mother’s story in a choreodrama, John converted “Sh’ma” to a feature-length film during the pandemic. She previewed it in Fort Worth this year and is seeking a distributor.

This summer, the project won a $25,000 matching grant from the Texas Holocaust, Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission and a $25,000 match from the Jewish Federation
of Fort Worth & Tarrant County, John said. The money will cover the costs of editing the film to a shorter length, so John can take it into schools for showings and workshops.

John and one of her TCU colleagues, Keith Saunders, a veteran of dance theater in Harlem and an associate professor of professional practice in classical and contemporary dance, will participate in a Q&A at the premiere. One of the dancers in the film, Kira Daniel, who graduated from TCU this spring and is a master’s candidate at Columbia University, will participate on the Q&A panel. Dance journalist Wendy Perron will serve as moderator.

The New York event is free and open to the public.

“Because the museum has a wide membership, we’re hoping people who could not get to the museum — perhaps because they’re survivors and very elderly — they’ll still be able to see it, which means a lot to us,” John said.

She hopes the exposure in New York will give the film the boost it needs to find a wider audience.

“Our hope is we will find distribution, possibly streaming or other venues to show it in,” she said.