Six years after it was completed and five years after its first broadcast, “Prisoner of Her Past” came home to Skokie, where the story originated.
“Conversations with Ed Tracy,” an ongoing series at the Skokie Theatre (conversationswithedtracy.com)
The next morning, Tracy copied Howard on a message Tracy had sent to a friend. We asked Tracy if we might share this message here, and he generously agreed. We thank him for his eloquence:
“We have already covered some important topics, but they will not all be stories as intense — and well told — as Howard’s. I think those who attended saw a different side of Howard Reich, an incredibly intelligent, articulate, animated individual who has had a very complex life himself. Thankfully, for all of us, he turned his passionate focus at an early age to music, art and other cultural pursuits like books and film, to continue to learn, understand and cope with his own situation. Recognizing that, he is now trying to help others.
“Howard and I have known each other for over 12 years, and I have read much of what he has written during that time. I have watched and participated in the development of this project, but each time we sit down I see continuing maturity in the story, its relevance to the issues of age and infirmity we all face and the direct connection of childhood memories and experiences that impact our later life.
“That Howard has managed to accept this situation and continues to cope so positively with his mother’s condition is in itself extraordinary considering his career demands. His love of music and writing evolved quickly from a defensive mechanism, to block out his childhood trauma, to a dynamic coping mechanism that helps us to grow and evolve as human beings. Music and artistic pursuits guide us through all of the emotional highs and lows of life. Every performer has that resource and outlet in their own music or art … a means of escape into a beautiful, melodic place that brings so much joy to others.”
Published on April 21, 2016 by Howard Reich
“Prisoner of Her Past” has played Toronto during past film festivals, but the documentary returned to the Ontario capital for a remarkable occasion: Holocaust Education Week 2015.
This annual, citywide event features lectures, concerts, panel discussions and films, this year’s proceedings focused on “Liberation: Aftermath & Rebirth.” The “aftermath” theme befit “Prisoner of Her Past,” for echoes of the Holocaust drive the film and haunt the life of its subject – Sonia Reich, my mother.
A capacity audience crowded into Beth Torah Congregation on Nov. 5, the audience paying close attention during the screening and offering a profusion of questions afterward, moderated by Rabbi Yossi Sapirman.
One observer asked whether I wish I knew more about what happened to my mother during the Holocaust.
I responded that, as a journalist, I always want to know more.
But Dr. Ken Schwartz, who spearheaded bringing the film to Holocaust Education Week, offered a different perspective. He said that in treating patients who are survivors, he doesn’t need to know the details of what happened. More important is the overall arc of the story and how patients and doctors try to come to terms with it.
I had to agree. Survivors have a right to privacy, and they alone must choose what is revealed and what is not. The rest of us simply must be open to listen.
The following day, Nov. 6, Dr. Schwartz and I presented the film at Toronto’s Baycrest Health Sciences, a geriatric center world-famous for its work with and for Holocaust survivors. Doctors, nurses and other caregivers attended the screening and, once again, offered ample questions and observations.
By showing at Baycrest, “Prisoner of Her Past” was playing Ground Zero for Holocaust survivors, an honor for the film and, I hope, a benefit to the medical professionals who watched it.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day (May 5), WTTW-Channel 11 will present its 6th annual broadcast of “Prisoner of Her Past. ” The film will air at 10pm. Written by Emmy-award winning Chicago Tribune journalist, Howard Reich, the film documents Howard’s quest to discover why his mother is reliving her Holocaust past. To date, “Prisoner of her Past,” has aired more than 500 times in 140 markets across the United States!
ENJOY A LIMITED TIME SPECIAL OFFER!
“Prisoner of Her Past” DVD plus a signed copy of the hardcover book, “The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich: A Son’s Memoir”
Now available at a special combo price of $25* (a 50% savings)!
Offer expires May 12, 2016
To order, go to: Kartemquin.com/store
*shipping costs are additional
Emmy-Award winning Chicago Tribune journalist and author, Howard Reich, will be the special guest at “Conversations with Ed Tracy” at the Skokie Theatre on Wednesday, April 20. This program is part of a new monthly interview series hosted by Ed Tracy featuring authors and influential leaders in the arts, media and business.
At 1:30pm, Kartemquin Films’ powerful documentary “Prisoner of Her Past” makes it premiere screening in Howard’s hometown of Skokie. Following the screening, Reich, the co-producer, writer and narrator of the film, will join Tracy to discuss his work and share an update of his mother’s story. A book signing will follow the discussion, courtesy of The Book Stall.
Tickets: $10, To reserve tickets, go to: www.skokietheatre.org or call 847.677.7761
Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Avenue, Skokie