A Holocaust film with a canine twist

Asher Kravitz’s ‘The Jewish Dog’ being adapted for Hollywood

March 6, 2018 18:00
1 minute read.
THE PERIMETER fence of Auschwitz II-Birkenau is enveloped in a thick evening fog during the ceremoni

THE PERIMETER fence of Auschwitz II-Birkenau is enveloped in a thick evening fog during the ceremonies marking the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the camp and International Holocaust Remembrance Day, near Oswiecim, Poland, January 2018. (photo credit: KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS)

It’s a Holocaust tale unlike any other: The story of a dog and his Jewish owner escaping a concentration camp against all the odds. And it’s a story that will be heading for the silver screen later this year.

The film, Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog, is based on the Hebrew novel The Jewish Dog by Israeli author Asher Kravitz. The book was first published in 2007 and then translated into English in 2015.

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According to a report in Variety on Monday, the indie film’s lead role is played by 10-year-old August Maturo. The actor is best known for his role in Girl Meets World and has also been seen in Weeds and How I Met Your Mother.

Filming took place last year in Budapest and was completed in November.

The story follows a young German Jewish boy, Joshua, and his beloved German shepherd Kaleb. When the Nuremberg Laws are adopted in the 1930s, Kaleb is separated from his family and eventually adopted by an SS officer. Later, Joshua is imprisoned at a concentration camp, where Kaleb has been trained to round up and attack Jewish prisoners. But Kaleb remembers the scent of his old master, and has not lost his loyalty. Together the pair plot an escape from the camp and a journey to Israel.

The film, written and directed by Lynn Roth and produced by Zvi Howard Rosenman, has been in the works for several years. In 2013 Roth ran an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for the film, but only raised just over $20,000 of an $180,000 goal.

In a 2013 column for The Hollywood Journal, Roth called the film a “highly emotional, memorable and a unique approach to the Holocaust... Through this dog and his young master, it will be an accessible way for children and generations to come to learn about this never to be forgotten time in our history.”

Rosenman told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the film is completed but does not yet have a premiere date.

“We are now putting an assemblage together,” he said. “We would like to enter the festivals – maybe Toronto, maybe Venice.”

Rosenman, known for Father of the Bride and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was most recently behind last year’s Call Me By Your Name, which was nominated for four Oscars.

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