Video: Panelists Discuss the Film "Above the Drowning Sea"
The USC U.S.-China Institute, USC Pacific Asia Museum, and USC Shoah Foundation presented a screening of the film Above the Drowning Sea, the story of the dramatic escape of European Jews from Nazi-controlled Europe to Shanghai on the eve of World War Two. The screening was followed by a panel conversation.
René Balcer, Director, Above the Drowning Sea
Balcer is well known as the showrunner, head writer and executive producer of the iconic television series Law & Order. He has won an Emmy, the Peabody Award, a Writers Guild of America Award and four Edgar Awards for his television work. René has also written and produced award-winning documentaries on art and China.
Clayton Dube, Director, USC U.S.-China Institute
Dube has headed the institute since it was established by USC President C.L. Nikias in 2006 to focus on the multidimensional U.S.-China relationship. Dube has produced two documentary films and consulted on several others. He headed the team producing the twelve-part Assignment: China documentary series on American media coverage of China since the 1940s.
Kori Street, Director of Education, USC Shoah Foundation
Dr. Street came to the Institute in 2011 from Mount Royal University, where she was an Associate Professor and served as Chair of Entrepreneurship, Nonprofit Studies, International Business and Aviation in the Bissett School of Business. After completing a Masters in the History of Education and Gender/Feminism at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, Dr. Street received her PhD in history from the University of Victoria in 2001.
Keith Eisner, Son of Jewish refugee to China
Eisner graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1993. After several years at a high profile law firm, he became a television producer and writer, best known for his work on The Good Wife, NYPD Blue and Law & Order.
This video is also available on the USCI YouTube Channel.
About the Film
Above the Drowning Sea tells the story of the dramatic escape of European Jews from Nazi-controlled Europe to Shanghai on the eve of World War Two. As Hitler’s forces sought to expel the Jews from Europe, no other country would open its doors to the refugees. Their lives at stake, the refugees desperately looked for an escape from the coming Holocaust. Then, a door opened on the east coast of far-away China, in Shanghai, an “open city” itself in chaos from foreign invasion and civil war. But getting there required a “golden” document to get out of Nazi Europe – a visa from China.
Above the Drowning Sea recounts the courageous intervention of Ho Feng Shan, the Chinese Consul in Vienna who defied his own government and braved the Gestapo to issue visas to the refugees. Jewish refugees and the Chinese residents of Shanghai who helped them survive in China recount their experiences, terrors and deprivations as well as the remarkable friendships forged across cultures, friendships that survive to this day.
Shot in six countries over four continents, Above the Drowning Sea takes you on an inspiring emotional journey across time and across the world. Truly a story that could have been ripped from today’s headlines, the film vividly celebrates the heroism and humanity of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances.
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