Rescue in the Philippines: Film Review
Russell C. Hodge and Cynthia Scott's documentary recounts the moving story of how some 1,300 Jewish refugees were taken in by the former U.S. colony.
Revealing yet another of what seems to be a sadly inexhaustible number of little-known tales about the Holocaust, Rescue in the Philippines recounts the moving story of how some 1,300 Jewish refugees were taken in by that then-U.S. colony. This hour-long film by Russell C. Hodge and Cynthia Scott details the noble efforts of a fascinatingly disparate group of figures--ranging from that country’s first president, Manuel Quezon, to a quintet of Jewish cigar manufacturer siblings from Cincinnati—to step where many other countries feared to tread.
According to this film, subtitled Refuge From the Holocaust, the plans were hatched over a series of late-night poker games, lending a melodramatic romanticism to the proceedings. Among those taking part were the politically savvy Corazon, who exhibited a deeply felt empathy for the victims of Nazi persecution; U.S. High Commissioner Paul McNutt, who helped arrange much-needed visas; then-Colonel Dwight Eisenhower; and the Frieder brothers, who helped raise funds and also provided jobs for the refugees in their Manila-based cigar company.
Hewing to traditional documentary structure with its mixture of archival footage and talking head interviews with elderly survivors and such descendants of the pivotal figures involved as Manuel Quezon III and Eisenhower’s granddaughter Susan, the film recounts its fascinating tale in clear and concise fashion. If anything, it’s too concise, leaving out contextual details that might have fleshed out the story in even more satisfying fashion.
Still, it’s one that well deserves to be told and—as narrated by the ubiquitous documentary voice of Liev Schreiber—it receives a gripping, uplifting treatment that reminds us that there are still yet unsung heroes of this tragic chapter in human history.
Opens March 29 (Three Roads Communications)
Directors/executive producers: Russell C. Hodge, Cynthia Scott
Screenwriters: Russell C. Hodge, Cynthia Scott, Terry Irving
Editor: Jenny Utterback Gebhardt
Narrator: Liev Schreiber
Not rated, 60 min.