Remarks by Ms. Kim Simon, Director of International Programs and Communications,
USC Shoah Foundation Institute, at the screening of
"Spell Your Name "
Good evening Excellencies, ladies, and gentleman. I am honored to join you on this second evening of film screenings. This evening, you will see the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s documentary Nazvy svoi im’ia (Spell Your Name).
I would again like to express our gratitude to Raymond Sommeryns, Kimberly Mann, and the staff at the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme and the UN Film Society for showing these films here.
Thank you also to Mr. Viktor Kryzhanivskyi for your words.
Beginning in 1994, Steven Spielberg had a vision to establish the Shoah Foundation. With the help of thousands of volunteers around the world, the Shoah Foundation spent six years collecting nearly 52,000 testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses in 56 countries and in 32 languages. From 2000 to 2005, hundreds of people participated in the effort to digitize 120,000 hours of video and to catalogue and index the interviews. Today, overcoming prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry through the educational use of the testimonies is at the center of what we do. Facing the stereotypes that exist against all people is what we strive to combat.
Spell Your Name was directed by Sergey Bukovsky, an accomplished filmmaker who has made more than 50 documentaries and television films over the last 25 years. He made this film by viewing and choosing from more than 3,500 testimonies conducted by the Shoah Foundation Institute in Ukraine. In Spell Your Name, he takes the viewer on a journey of discovery as he and several Ukrainian students absorb the testimony of 12 men and women who escaped brutal execution and 2 women involved in the rescue of friends and neighbors during the Holocaust. These individuals share the details of their experiences, and additionally, we are afforded a glimpse of modern-day Ukraine: the ethnic stereotypes that continue to exist and the manner in which Post-Soviet society is dealing with the question of how to memorialize the sites where tens of thousands of Jewish families and others were executed and thrown into mass graves.
I will conclude with an observation expressed by Sergey Bukovsky after he had viewed nearly 500 testimonies in the archive. He said, “I realized that the film had to be about the fact that if there is even one single person in this world who would help another escape death, then the world is not without hope.”