Documentary filmmaker and Ballard resident Elke Hautala is in the process of producing a short film about the unique story of a Dutch holocaust survivor. The film is being produced by Heartstone Studios, a production company that Hautala recently started with Michael Kleven.
The story centers around the experiences of Dutch holocaust survivor Ernst Van Gelderen (pictured above in 1942) who narrowly escaped arrival at a concentration camp when he was a child.
At 3 years old, Van Gelderen was sent into hiding for his own safety and 0n September 7, 1943, a Dutch policeman working for the Nazis discovered him. He and the couple that were hiding him were then locked up in Scheveningen Prison. Van Gelderen was then sent on to the Dutch Theater or Hollandsche Schaumburg and was then put on a train headed to the concentration camps.
“By some miracle he was snatched off of the train by a member of the underground resistance and saved from certain death. Hence the title of both Van Gelderen’s memoirs and the film, I Missed My Train,” says Hautala.
71 years later Van Gelderen is ready to share his incredible story of survival with Hautala and her crew. The folks at Heartstone Studios have started a month-long crowd funding campaign through Indie Go Go in partnership with the non-profit Filmmaker’s Alliance. Check out the short video about the project below:
Once produced, the team plan to organize educational screenings in Seattle and the Netherlands at places such as the Holocaust Center for Humanity. The team has already reached nearly 25% of their funding target with 19 days remaining in the fundraising campaign.
“It’s a story from that time with an unusually heartwarming ending that gives us universal insight into how this whole generation of children dealt with unimaginable trauma, questioned their fate and developed ties beyond blood relatives. It’s a meaningful and educational project that I’m hoping to screen in both Seattle and Holland,” says Hautala.
Van Gelderen himself provides personal insight into his unique rescue in his memoir. “If I think about the fact that I was very close to a premature departure from this world, the question comes to mind: ‘Why me? Why was another child not standing closer to that door?’ Those are questions that cannot be answered in this life, so call it coincidence, predestination or karma,” writes Van Gelderen.
Pre-production on the 28 minute short began in August through collaborative research with the University of Washington and will continue through November 19 when the crew is set to head overseas for filming. They will shoot on location in the Netherlands for ten days in November with Ernst revisiting sites of his experiences during the war. The crew will also be filming several staged re-enactments here in the Pacific Northwest in early 2015. At this stage, the film release is set to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Dutch Liberation Day on May 5, 2015.
Fiscal sponsorship through Filmmaker’s Alliance makes all donations to the project tax-deductible. Locals interested in contributing can click here.
To find out more about Heartstone Studios visit: www.heartstonestudios.com.
Photo courtesy of Heartstone Studios.