April 27, 2020
Who Will Write Our HistorySee All Screenings
In November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, a secret band of journalists, scholars and community leaders decided to fight back. Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, this clandestine group vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with pen and paper. Now, for the first time, their story is told as a feature documentary. Written, produced, and directed by Roberta Grossman and executive produced by Nancy Spielberg, Who Will Write Our History mixes the writings of the Oyneg Shabes archive with new interviews, rarely seen footage and stunning dramatizations to transport us inside the Ghetto and the lives of these courageous resistance fighters. They defied their murderous enemy with the ultimate weapon – the truth – and risked everything so that their archive would survive the war, even if they did not.
An award-winning filmmaker with a passion for history and social justice, Roberta Grossman has written, directed, and produced more than 40 hours of film and television. What sets her films apart are high production values, beautiful cinematic craftsmanship and inspiring protagonists. Grossman’s films tell stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the name of justice. According to Grossman, “making a documentary is like pushing Sisyphus’ rock up a steep mountain. The only way to summit is to have a sense of personal responsibility to tell a story that would otherwise remain untold.”
Grossman wrote, produced, and directed Who Will Write Our History, about Emanuel Ringelblum and the secret archive of the Warsaw Ghetto, co-produced by Arte and NDR. Also in 2018, Grossman co-directed and produced the Netflix Original Documentary Seeing Allred, about women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. Seeing Allred premiered in competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and was described as “remarkably engaging (The New York Times), “utterly fascinating” (CNET) and “the perfect companion to the #MeToo movement (Variety). Grossman is currently producing All This Life: The Many Worlds of Roman Vishniac.
In 2014, Grossman directed Above and Beyond for producer Nancy Spielberg, about the American–Jewish WWII pilots who volunteered to fight for Israel in the 1948 War. That film won the audience award at more than 20 film festivals worldwide. Grossman’s 2012 Hava Nagila (The Movie), which used the song as a portal into 150 years of Jewish history, culture and spirituality, was the opening or closing night film at more than 30 film festivals. Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, Grossman’s 2008 film was shortlisted for an Academy Award, won audience awards at 13 film festivals, aired on PBS/Independent Lens and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy.
Grossman also produced Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning, which aired on PBS/American Masters in 2014, and executive produced On the Map in 2016 for director Dani Menkin. Grossman was the series producer and co-writer of 500 Nations, the eight-hour CBS series on Native Americans hosted by Kevin Costner. Her film Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action, aired on PBS in 2005.
Grossman is the co-founder with Lisa Thomas of the non-profit production company Katahdin Productions. She is a three-time recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a panelist for the WGA Documentary Screenplay Awards. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, with a degree in honors in history, and she received an M.A. in film from the American Film Institute.
Due to COVID-19, a virtual screening and Q&A was presented on April 27, 2020 with guest Director, Producer, and Writer Roberta Grossman.