Steven Spielberg Announces Schindler's List 20th Anniversary and the IWitness Video Challenge
“I implore all the educators who are watching this program to please do not allow the Holocaust to remain a footnote in history, please teach this in your schools. There are 350,000 experts who just want to be useful with the remainder of their lives. Please listen to the words and the echoes and the ghosts and please teach this in your schools.”
- Steven Spielberg
These words were spoken by Mr. Steven Spielberg at the 66th Academy Awards in 1994 when his critically acclaimed drama SCHINDLER’S LIST was named Best Picture of the year, which you can check out here. It was a shining night for the filmmaker who that same year found massive box office success with JURASSIC PARK as well. Yet for Spielberg, the success led to something even greater and more personal, something that could carry on to others, a lesson that would be passed down to generations.
That same year, the director founded the USC Shoah Foundation which is dedicated to making audio-visual interviews with survivors of the Holocaust in order to preserve their voice for future generations. With its near twenty-year anniversary arriving in 2014 and the upcoming Blu-ray release of SCHINDLER’S LIST, Spielberg continues to create ways for young people to educate themselves and have accessibility to the near 51,696 interviews collected. The program is entitled IWitness and during a press conference held last week, one which JoBlo.com was honored to attend, the acclaimed filmmaker introduced this exciting program to educators and students alike.
“Over the last two decades, I’d always hoped that the film and the Shoah Foundation would know no bounds of age or generation or no bounds of geography. So today, as we launch the iWitness Video Challenge, I have never believed more in the idea that acts of kindness do not always have to be random. In an age of unprecedented technological advancement I was sure our consciousness would evolve along the same lines along with those advances in technology, yet sometimes it seems as if there are still people that are immune to the notion of empathy and compassion. [These are] people who see disturbing images on media and on television and people who watch a clip of random violence or discrimination or bullying on YouTube and stand silent. So many in the world refuse to bear witness and do something about it. And I find that in many cases technology is becoming more of a vehicle of voyeurism than a vehicle for change” , offered the director as he began to talk about this brave new world.
“This persistence of inaction is the reason that the mission of this foundation I think is as relevant today. Having said that and with the utmost hope of what is to come, I’m here to announce the next step in the mission of the Shoah Foundation - the iWitness Video Challenge. The idea behind the challenge is the same idea as what was behind SCHINDLER’S LIST. Profound change can occur when even one person makes a positive choice. Students will listen to testimonies from iWitness and they’ll develop insight and to help use those testimonies to draw conclusions about how they can better their communities and build a video essay telling the story of how they helped their community and how they participated in making the world a better place. And the student who submits the most impactful video will be invited to Los Angeles to come here to present their video as part of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s twentieth anniversary on the fourteenth [March, 2014]." [We have included some of the highlights from the event at the end of this article for you to see for yourself.]
The contest will challenge secondary school students to create a one to four minute video that promotes a positive change in their community. While the IWitness accounts are only available through education programs, your school can take advantage of the program at no cost. For more information you can visit the official USC Shoah Foundation website sfi.usc.edu as well as the official website for the IWitness Video Challenge iwitness.usc.edu. This is an exciting way to use technology and YouTube to create for the betterment of a community and dare I say even personal growth and knowledge. It also seems to be a perfect opportunity to give students the chance to be creative with more than just a video of their cat playing piano.
For those of us that are well past our formative years and simply would like to own a copy of SCHINDLER’S LIST 20th Anniversary Limited Edition it will be available this coming Tuesday, March 5th. This impressive digitally restored special edition Blu-ray combo pack also includes the DVD and a digital copy & UltraViolet as well as some impressive special features. This includes “Voices from the List,” a documentary featuring testimonies of those who survived the Holocaust thanks to Oskar Schindler as well as the “USC Shoah Foundation Story with Steven Spielbert.” This is a must own for any Spielberg fan out there and I know we have quite a few here at JoBlo.com.