Movies of Delray is presenting the documentary “UPHEAVAL The Journey of Menachem Begin.” Associate Producer Rachel Greenberg will lead a Q&A during two screenings: Thursday, December 1 at 7:15 p.m. and Sunday, December 4 at 12:45 p.m. The film opens to the public at both Movies of Delray and Movies of Lake Worth on Friday, December 2. I interviewed Greenberg ahead of the screening and asked her to express her thoughts on her contribution to the film?
“I wore many hats in the making of UPHEAVAL. My official credited roles were Producer and Researcher. However, what I actually did, ran the gamut from finance, fundraising and grant writing to operations, marketing and distribution and legal. I also led all of the English-language research efforts; digging up archival footage, documents and images. Most importantly though, it was really about getting things done, making connections, connecting the dots, following the breadcrumbs, and not taking ‘no’ for an answer. What’s remarkable is the skillset and disciplines that I built up in the corporate world across all of these disciplines which gave me the foundation to do this work and were easily transferable.”
“I learned so many things producing this film. From the point of view of history, I never knew anything about the Vietnamese refugees, which to me is a fascinating story. When we were in Israel interviewing for the film, I met several Vietnamese refugees and their descendants. Several of them attended a screening of UPHEAVAL at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. One of the children of a refugee who didn’t know much about the history sent me an email after the screening, writing: ‘I want to thank you for sharing my people’s story. It’s a big honor.’ From more of a technical or operational standpoint, it’s the idea of resilience. If you get a ‘no’ from someone, find another way in. Anything is possible. When Rob Schwartz, the Executive Producer and visionary behind the film, and I started the documentary we never could have imagined where we could take this film and how hard it was to initially get there. Now we have screened the film all over the United States, have been in 25+ film festivals, will have screened at more than 100 college campuses by the end of the school year, have screened at synagogues, churches, and Native American reservations, special screening on WORLD Channel, have screened in eight countries with at least another dozen taking place throughout 2023. It’s no longer a movie but a movement.”
Greenberg explained why the film was important to make.
“For starters, there has never been an English-language feature length film on Menachem Begin. Begin’s life, leadership and legacy offer us important lessons for navigating the perils of our current social climate, the dangers of unchecked anti-Semitism. UPHEAVAL is an authentic look at a complex man who, in many ways, defined the modern State of Israel. UPHEAVAL: The Journey of Menachem Begin is an authentic look at a proud Jew who never compromised when the dignity, safety and security of the Jewish people was at stake.”
“The documentary is described by American film critic Michael Medved, ‘as an essential and a masterful primer for anyone who seeks a better understanding of the Middle East.’ UPHEAVAL tells the story of modern-day Israel through the lens of Menachem Begin’s life. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. This May, we will be celebrating the 75th birthday of the state of Israel. The film elevates thinking and conversation on antisemitism, leadership, war and peace, security, social justice, etc. Begin showed us what it is to be a proud Jew and he never compromised when the dignity and safety of the Jewish people were at stake. As a man of principle, he fought for the universal human desire for freedom. Begin took responsibility for both his good and bad decisions, and overrode world opinion for actions that he thought were best for his country.”
“He showed us what it is to have a moral conscience, and how powerful it can be when combined with eloquence and courage. In today’s climate of rising anti-Semitism and misrepresentation of Israel, the number of people who don’t understand or know Jewish and Israel history is astounding and the number is only rising. They know there was a Holocaust, but they don’t know much about the Zionist movement, the miracle of the State of Israel, or its founding fathers. Now, more than ever, as people are inundated with biased headlines and negative social media posts about Israel, it’s important to understand the history of the founding of the country and the difficult decisions leaders face there yesterday, today, and tomorrow. UPHEAVAL is a nuanced film about Israel that treats the nation’s history as a story of survival while accepting the country’s legacy, both good and bad. Our hope is that the film will encourage conversation, and instill a deeper understanding of a controversial, remarkable, and principled leader. There is something for everyone in this film.”
I asked if the film presents Menachem Begin in a new light?
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“This is the first ever English language film made on Menachem Begin. The film not only tells the biography of Menachem Begin but also tells the story of modern-day Israel in a very balanced fashion. What is also unique about this documentary is that we tracked down three English language television interviews of Begin (Barbara Walters, 700 Club and Rabbi Alexander Schindler, leader of the Reform Movement) so you will hear Begin telling his story in his own words. In addition to the interviews with Menachem Begin, the documentary is peppered with WWII film reels, animation, and original declassified documents. In addition, the film ties in the modern-day rise of antisemitism globally and lessons the world can learn from Begin about being a proud Jew and never compromising when the dignity of the Jewish people is at stake. This is not a narrated documentary.”
I asked Greenberg if she believes Begin’s influence is present in today’s Israel?
“Menachem Begin promoted the continuity of the Jewish people. Menachem Begin was what some people called the first ‘Jewish Prime Minister.’ He represented the continuity of the Jewish people. He was an unapologetic Jew and brought Jewishness to the State. Begin made sure that only kosher food was eaten during State business, made El Al stop flying on Shabbat, was the first prime minister to visit the Kotel (Western Wall) immediately after being elected prime minister, since him every prime minister has done so also. More than that he was an unapologetic and proud Jew who never compromised when the dignity of the Jewish people were at stake. He is a very important role model now when we are facing rising antisemitism around the world.”
In concluding our conversation, I asked why it is important to show the film now?
“This May, we will be celebrating Israel’s 75th birthday. There is no better time to learn more about one of its founding fathers and fill in your knowledge gaps on the history of modern-day Israel and the origins of some of the challenges Israel faces today. The film both educates and inspires. Begin embodied so many issues that are relevant and resonated today, from embracing those who are disenfranchised, to protecting the dignity of Jews, for that matter the dignity of all humans, to taking great personal and political risk with Egypt and the signing of the peace treaty. This film peels back the onion on so many issues that people feel strongly about and opens up your thinking to new ideas and perspectives.”
Movies of Delray is located at 7421 W Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach. Call (561) 638-0020 or visit moviesofdelray.com
Movies of Lake Worth is located at 7380 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth. Call (561) 968-4545 or visit moviesoflakeworth.com