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Prisoner of Her Past
Sixty years after the war, a survivor is running and hiding again...

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Published on July 20th, 2017 by admin

Prisoner of Her Past is now available for streaming and download worldwide via iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and VHX.

The film tells the haunting story of a secret childhood trauma resurfacing, sixty years later, to unravel the life of Holocaust survivor Sonia Reich. Her son, Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich journeys across the United States and Eastern Europe to uncover why his mother believes the world is conspiring to kill her.

Watch the trailer: Prisoner of Her Past Trailer

Reich is currently at work on his second film in collaboration with Kartemquin, entitled Left-handed Pianist, about pianist Norman Malone––reclaiming the stage 73 years after a tragedy that left him paralyzed on his right side. Sign up for the film’s mailing list here.


Published on April 22nd, 2016 by admin


“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”  

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Published on April 21st, 2016 by admin

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 (, featured a screening of the film, dialogue with Tracy and questions and commentary from a packed house on April 20.

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.”

skokie theatre

Published on April 21st, 2016 by admin

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.

Published on April 20th, 2016 by admin

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!


“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:
*shipping costs are additional

Published on April 19th, 2016 by admin

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: or call 847.677.7761
Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Avenue, Skokie

Published on July 27th, 2015 by admin

An unforgettable residency at Adrian College brought “Prisoner of Her Past” to a large audience during a screening on the evening of March 23, 2015. The panel discussion afterward centered on the subject of memory: how to preserve it, how to cope with it. Monique Savage, longtime director of the school’s Counseling Services Center, made a searing point when can young guys take viagra asked by an audience member why patients haunted by PTSD can’t simply take medicine to make the memories go away. “Some people don’t like medicine because it does work,” said Savage, referring to advanced drugs.

“It does take away some of that pain, but that’s the strongest link to one’s past.” To erase that pain and those memories, in other words, is to erase a measure of one’s identity. And that can be unbearable. Scholar Sarah Garibova, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Michigan, discussed her travels to the killing grounds of Eastern Europe, pointing out that there’s much Holocaust research yet to be done there, uncounted memories to be gleaned more than 70 years later.

– Howard Reich

Published on April 6th, 2015 by admin

For the fifth year in a row, WTTW Channel 11in Chicago is broadcasting “Prisoner of Her Past” in commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Week. The film traces Chicago Tribune journalist Howard Reich’s journey to uncover his mother’s hidden Holocaust childhood – and why she is reliving it.

“Prisoner of Her Past” remains quite active: Howard recently returned from a residency at Adrian College in Michigan and is doing additional screenings and lectures across the Chicago area this spring and in Toronto in the fall. The film has been embraced in colleges and universities, where Howard has brought clips and opened discussions in classes on European history, genocide, journalism, Holocaust studies, creative writing and music.

Published on October 10th, 2014 by admin

On April 16, 2007, a student at Virginia Tech University india viagra generic safe killed 32 people and injured 18 in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

That tragic event formed the backdrop for a three-day “Prisoner of Her Past” residency at the Blacksburg, Va., campus, where I showed the film and discussed its implications in classes and public gatherings.

Dr. Stefanie Hofer – a German language professor who lost her husband, Jamie Bishop, in the shootings – had discovered the “Prisoner” film and book as she researched PTSD in the aftermath of April 16. She told me that she believed the story of my mother, whose Holocaust-era traumas have returned in the form of delusion, would be of value to a Virginia Tech community that had suffered terrible events much more recently.

Only those who attended “Prisoner” residency could assess its impact, but there was no doubting the level of interest in the central theme of the acquistare cialis story: late-onset PTSD. I was welcomed to speak to hundreds of freshmen in the First Year Experience course and to classes in Russian conversation, the Holocaust, modern German culture and 20th century history. A heavily attended book reading at the university’s Newman Library and a crowded film screening in the historic Lyric Theater opened up the narrative to the public at large.

Every session, including one-on-one meetings with specific faculty members, culminated with an avalanche of questions, most centering on PTSD: “Does the illness travel through generations?” (Research suggests it can.) “Can people with PTSD be helped?” (Yes, though my mother’s extreme case resists all treatment.) “Does talking about trauma offer relief or healing?” (Not necessarily.) “Does the world know about generic cialis online late-onset PTSD?” (Not nearly enough, as the early misdiagnosis of my mother’s case shows.)

But a great deal of the teaching here was done by the students. One told

the First Year Experience class of her visit to the Dachau concentration camp, her harrowing description of what she saw bringing a large lecture hall to awed silence. Several ROTC students and others spoke of friends and relatives who had returned from combat in Afghanistan psychologically imperiled. Other students discussed the lack of recognition the Holocaust receives through much of Eastern Europe. One told me of how difficult it is even for the grandchildren of survivors in Israel to speak of this subject. And many said that when they watched my mother in “Prisoner” they recognized similar, paranoid behaviors of their own grandparents.

In effect, these appearances at Virginia Tech linked a historic trauma to a very recent one and showed how much has yet to be understood about the implications of both.

— Howard Reich

Published on October 8th, 2014 by admin


By Katrina Spinner-Wilson, lifestyles editor

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Howard Reich grew up in Illinois knowing almost nothing about his mother’s childhood.

“When I compare notes with my sister, we can only think of about three sentences that my mother told the both of us through our entire lives of growing up with her,” said Reich.

Although he knew both his parents were Holocaust survivors, he felt ignorant of the subject and particularly unaware of what his mother, Sonia Reich, experienced as a young girl in Dubno, Poland, now part of Ukraine.

Reich is educating people with his memoir and documentary by traveling places such as museums, arts centers and schools. From Oct. 5-8, he will make his first visit to Virginia Tech, which he describes as one of the most important stops to him due to the tragic events that transpired on April 16, 2007.

Reich began discovering his mother’s past rather unexpectedly when, one night in February of 2001, she ran out of her home. In that moment and years to follow, Reich realized she was running from her horrible experiences as a child, felt vividly in her mind.

“I suddenly, really for the first time, had to face what this unspoken story in my family was,” Reich said. “I was just confronted with it. I was trying to help my mother and figure out what was going on.”

It took one year until doctors finally decided to diagnose Reich’s mother with late-onset PTSD, an illness that Reich didn’t know was capable of affecting civilians whose lives are threatened in tragedies such as war, genocide or hurricane.

Someone with late-onset PTSD can suffer a trauma, but the worst symptoms may not appear for months, years or decades later.

“So our goal with this story is not only to tell my mother’s story, but for people to understand just because you’re an old person and you’re having mental problems does not automatically mean you have Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia,” Reich said. “It might be post-traumatic stress disorder or late-onset PTSD, as is my mother’s case and we’re hoping this can help enlighten and educate people.”

The tragedy at Virginia Tech on April 16 serves as a major talking point for Reich’s visit.

“Everyone in America was affected by that. Anyone who pays attention,” Reich said. “So definitely I will acknowledge it and I don’t presume to know enough about it and I know I’ll probably learn a lot while I’m there.”

Stephanie Hofer, a German professor in the Department of Foreign Language and Literatures, lost her husband Jamie Bishop, also a professor, in the 2007 tragedy .

“After I lost my husband on April 16, 2007, I started to read a lot of books,  memoirs in particular,” said Hofer. “I was very much interested in real life stories of people who experienced trauma and it was for me a way to mourn the lives lost on April 16, but also find out more about being traumatized — what it means — because I was severely traumatized.”

Hofer discovered Reich’s memoir through an Amazon search and, as a German, became particularly interested in the title since Reich is a German word.

Besides reading the memoir, Hofer watched the documentary and visited Reich’s webpage, where she found out that Reich visits schools and universities. Since Virginia Tech and its community has experienced trauma, Hofer thought this would be an important topic to discuss on campus.

In particular, Hofer expresses interest in learning more from Reich’s documentary, where he discusses New Orleans and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He explains how the community suffers PTSD, drawing the connection to Virginia Tech and April 16.

Reich incorporates New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina into his documentary because as a jazz critic for the Chicago Tribune, he was sent to report the cultural after-effects in the city. He discovered that New Orleans was traumatized and suffering from what seemed like PTSD and included this in his documentary to show audiences that PTSD does not just stem from wars and genocides.

“It would show how awareness of this subject — of this illness — could help people,” Reich said. “We’re not trying to make any kind of comparison between the two traumas. Only to show if you’re traumatized, you need help.”

Inspiration to write about his mother came from his background as a reporter, as he was accustomed to making observations and taking notes.

“She was saying all these incredible things about how there’s a yellow Star of David on her clothes and people were trying to kill her,” Reich said.

Interested in learning more, Reich traveled to Dubno in 2003, his mother’s birthplace, that he knew very little about.

Reich learned that when his mother was a child she was one of the of the 12,000 Jews who lived there; less than 100, his mother included, survived.

“It’s a dying little village,” Reich said. “But what amazed me was that all the clues to that story were still there waiting to be told, waiting to be found.”

This trip was especially important — life altering as Reich describes — because he was able to see the town and interact with unknown relatives and residents who could give him more information about the town’s turbulent past.

During his visit, Reich visited the house his mother grew up in, saw where Jews were executed during the Holocaust and read documents that gave him a better understanding of what his mother and millions of other Jews endured.

“And I found out, which I didn’t know — that my mother really showed incredible heroism at age 10 and 11 and through about age 15, spending those years running and hiding and trying to live — trying to find a way to live while the whole world was literally trying to kill her,” Reich said. “I thought that showed incredible heroism and courage and faith in life.”

Reich’s visit in 2003 allowed him to finally connect the pieces and understand what his mother was running from and continues to run from today.

“So it’s as if I knew almost nothing about my mother before that trip. And now, and since that trip, and through all my research, I’ve learned a great deal,” Reich said. “And in a way I feel fortunate to have found out the story as tragic as it is. “

Reich’s story of his mother emerged in 2003 as a large newspaper article in the Chicago Tribune and at that point, Reich was unaware what kind of reactions  — if any — would develop in response.

“And the day that article ran I started getting emails from around the world from Mexico, Germany and France. It just circled the globe instantly,” Reich said. “There was so much interest in it that people started telling me you should expand it into a book, you should make it into a film and so on.”

According to Reich, once publishers began contacting him, it felt like second nature since he has immense experience with writing and a vast amount of information to tell his family’s story.

“It was something…it was as if this whole subject had been bottled up by me and my family for all these years and decades,” Reich said. “And now it was kind of exploded and I needed a book — a full length book in which to tell the story. I needed a film in which to tell the story.”

Released in 2010, Reich’s documentary “Prisoner of Her Past” was produced by a Chicago documentary company known as Kartemquim, who arranged for PBS to broadcast the film and distribute it nationally.

“I’m excited about that because that meant that a story that was known very well, but only in Chicago, started to be seen across the country and in Canada and other countries,” Reich said.

Although the memoir has been published and the documentary has been produced, Reich says he continues to update the story through public speaking.

“You can’t plan out life — that’s something that I’ve learned. You make plans but other things happen. But at the same time I feel gratitude that I’ve been able to discover this story and as the saying goes, I feel sadder but wiser,” Reich said. “I’m sorry for what happened. I feel terrible for what my parents and so many million suffered, but I’m still glad I know because that’s better than ignorance…”


Published on April 2nd, 2014 by admin

Insights on the meanings of “Prisoner of Her Past” have come from many sources, and this week they were delivered by some very savvy psychiatrists.

During a Florida tour organized by Dr. Marc Agronin, we presented the film at the annual meeting of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, in Orlando on March 17. After the screening, doctors discussed and debated what could be done for a patient like my mother, whose childhood Holocaust traumas have distorted her perception of reality, leading her to believe that the world once again is conspiring to kill her.

The doctors offered a variety of viewpoints, but I found the comments of Dr. Alessandra Scalmati particularly moving and persuasive. As a psychiatrist who has treated Holocaust survivors for years, Dr. Scalmati argued passionately that doctors should not presume that they can “fix” horrific memories that are so deeply rooted in trauma and in the past. Instead, Dr. Scalmati urged psychiatrists to acknowledge what their survivor patients endured, listen attentively to their stories and cheap cialis online respect the ways in which the survivors are attempting to cope with their difficult personal histories.

My mother’s current fears and paranoia, in other words, clearly are her means of responding to recurrent traumas. To tell my mother – or people like her – that her delusions are unreal and her behavior in need of modification is not only futile but a mistake. Instead, all of us – doctors and caregivers – must try to comfort people who suffer like my mother, rather than try to impose upon them a different way of thinking and acting.

The following night we showed the film at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center to an overflow audience that included many Holocaust survivors, their children and grandchildren. Dr. Agronin, medical director for mental health and clinical research at Miami Jewish Health Systems, took the podium to introduce the film. He pointed out that although my mother isn’t telling her story in the linear, narrative manner that we might prefer, she surely is doing so in her own way: through her actions, through her delusions and through her re-enactments of her Holocaust experiences. There are no words, after all, to adequately express what she and other survivors endured. But by appearing unflinchingly before the camera, she has assured that her story is heard.

— Howard Reich

Published on February 27th, 2014 by admin

“Prisoner of Her Past” begins its fifth year going remarkably strong, with broadcasts and events scheduled throughout 2014.

It all began as a Chicago Tribune article in 2003, evolved into a book in 2006 and became a documentary film in 2010 – and the story shows no signs of slowing down. The audience only seems to grow.

To date “Prisoner of Her Past” has been broadcast more than 510 times in 140 markets across the U.S. The film will be rebroadcast on WTTW Channel 11 at 6 p.m. April 27 to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In addition, I will continue to travel with the film, upcoming appearances including these events:

  • The American Association of Geriatric Psychology will screen the film during its
    annual meeting in Orlando,
  • A public screening at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in Aventura, Fl., will be presented by Miami Jewish Health Systems Memory Center and the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach on March 18. I’ll be there.
  • KCPT public television will host a screening at the Tivoli theater in Kansas City at 2 p.m. June 14 as part of National PTSD Awareness Month. I’ll participate in a post-screening discussion, and a broadcast date on KCPT will be announced soon.
  • I will be in residence at Virginia Tech University Oct. 6-8 for a public screening and classroom presentations.

In addition, the film’s new website is full of resources, including an extensive study guide for classroom use and a discussion guide for community screenings. “Prisoner of Her Past” continues to be a useful tool for launching discussions about geriatric psychology, Holocaust history, PTSD/late-onset PTSD, childhood trauma and more.

Check the guides out here:

If you would like to host a screening of the film or use the film in your classroom, fill out the easy online form here:

Or drop us a line:

— Howard Reich

Published on February 27th, 2014 by admin

The past couple of years have been brisk in the life of “Prisoner of Her Past.” Among the highlights:

Oct. 8-9, 2012 at Westtown School, West Chester, Pa. Established in 1799, this Quaker school presented me during a two-day residency in which several hundred students watched the film, with a robust Q-and-A that followed. The next day, I spoke to individual classes on the Holocaust, genocide, writing and music.

June 24, 2012 at a meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois. Professional and self-styled genealogists converged on Temple Beth Israel, in Skokie, for a screening of “Prisoner of Her Past.” Afterward, participants exchanged ideas and techniques for tracing family history in Eastern Europe; I also shared my methods.

Nov. 7, 2011 at the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival. Timed to coincide with the Philadelphia broadcast of the rx pharmacy film, this screening yielded a surprise: Helen Segall, a retired professor of Russian studies, introduced herself to me as a survivor of Dubno (the town where my mother was born and spent the first years of her life). Later, Prof. Segall sent me her own research on the atrocities committed there.

Nov. 4, 2011 at the annual meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Studies. The world’s foremost gathering of medical professionals dealing in trauma met at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel, with a featured screening of the film. This was followed by a separate session in which the experts analyzed and discussed the documentary. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals considered my mother, Sonia Reich, a classic example of delayed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and discussed how this film explored the illness.

Aug. 15, 2011 at the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Studies, the world’s leading organization on Jewish genealogy, held its annual conference at the Grand Hyatt Washington and featured “Prisoner of Her Past.” After the screening, genealogists quizzed me on how I found records tracing my family’s history and property ownership in Dubno, Poland, as well as documents detailing war crimes that took place there.

Aug. 14, 2011 at the Center for Changing Lives

The Twin Cities premiere of the film played an unconventional setting: The Center for Changing Lives, a venture of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota that provides job training, counseling, financial services, after-school activities, health care screenings and the like. This is precisely the kind of help that my mother and other Holocaust survivors needed after emigrating from Europe to the United States. A wide demographic attended this screening, with post-film discussion moderated by Minnesota Public Radio’s Euan Kerr, in conversation with Randi Markusen of World Without Genocide, Dr. Brian Engdahl from the VA Medical Center, Nancy Beers from Lutheran Social Services, film director Gordon Quinn and me.

April 7, 2011 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. The New York premiere of the film drew a large audience, including some noteworthy figures: critic Stanley Crouch, who wrote a warm column about the film in the New York Daily News; and jazz master Ornette Coleman, whose recording of his most famous work, “Lonely Woman,” is the dominant musical theme of the documentary. During the panel discussion afterward, Dr. Yuval Neria – director of the Trauma and PTSD program at Columbia University – said to me, “You’re lucky to have such a mother.” So true.

— Howard Reich

Published on April 15th, 2011 by admin

Prisoner of Her Past plays a little differently in front of every audience, but nowhere like in New Orleans.

Though only a brief – if significant – sequence of the film was shot in the Crescent City, the audience embraced that passage. In the Q-and-A session following the screening at the National World War II Museum on April 4, more than half the questions concerned the way PTSD has wracked New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

What’s being done to help children who experienced horrors during and after the storm? What about adults? Where are New Orleanians supposed to go for help? Why doesn’t language express what trauma survivors feel? How do you deal with the guilt of surviving? How do you replace friends who left and are never coming back? How do you save your city?

The avalanche of questions made me particularly glad that we had brought my mother’s story into the present by showing modern-day trauma in New Orleans. You don’t have to be a Holocaust survivor or a war veteran, the film is saying, to be haunted by traumatic memories.

Answering the questions were two of New Orleans’ leading PTSD experts, Drs. Joy and Howard Osofsky, who were first responders after Katrina and appear in Prisoner of Her Past. As I sat on the post-screening panel with them, listening to their answers, I felt as if I were listening to a city communing with itself, grappling with some of the same troubles that have so deeply disturbed my mother.

But this wasn’t the only revelatory screening in New Orleans. Earlier in the day, we screened the film for more than 200 students at Xavier University Preparatory School, the same Catholic high school shown in the doc. Though the girls we filmed in 2006 have long since graduated, the current students fell to a hush as the Xavier Prep sequence in the movie unfolded. Their questions, too, were unlike any I’ve encountered elsewhere: Have you ever met a Holocaust survivor who also survived Katrina? Did you ever hear again from the girls you filmed? Will you come and film in New Orleans again, to keep covering the story?

Toward the end of the session, Xavier Prep principal Carolyn Oubre told the students about what their teachers had suffered during the storm, how many had lost loved ones and homes and cars, how arduously they battled to come back to New Orleans, “to minister to you,” she said.

The kids instantly burst into applause.

Bravo to them all.

– Howard Reich

Published on January 20th, 2011 by admin

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Instead, they convened all the eighth graders in the school, then screened the movie in three segments. In between, they discussed Prisoner of Her Past in small groups.

By the time I stood in front of 150 students, they were bursting with ideas, observations and an outpouring of inquiries. Such as:

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The discussion ran over an hour. Afterward, kids came up to me, shook my hand and said they were going to download the book that inspired the film.

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this together.

I learned a lot.

– Howard Reich

Published on December 13th, 2010 by admin

A critical new audience has opened up for “Prisoner of Her Past” in the past several weeks: students.

Though we had shown the film once before to teenagers – at Northwestern University’s National High School – the scope and breadth of our student audience expanded dramatically last month. generic viagra online india “Prisoner” has played to hundreds of youngsters in Arlington, Tx., and hundreds more in St. Louis and elsewhere

The demographic cialis online canadian has been immense, spanning college-age to middle school; black, white, Latino and Asian; American-born and African immigrants.

Their comments have been striking.

“I come from a place that was a cruel dictatorship, and I’ve seen some things, and my mom knows much more,” said a student from the People’s Republic of Congo at Tarrant Community College, in Arlington, after watching “Prisoner.”

“I can understand why your mother never wanted to talk about what happened to her.”

A friend of his from Ghana echoed the thought.

“My family was very secretive about how we lived in the past, when I was very young,” said the TCC student, comparing his family’s traumatic experiences to those my mother, and her cousins Leon and Fanka, suffered 60 years earlier.

“Leon had something to hold on to – the family who hid him,” the student said. “That’s why they coped in different ways.

“Your mother was on her own. She was forced to become harsh.”

The insights of these young adults suggested that they could see elements of their own stories – their own lives – in “Prisoner of Her Past.” Which is precisely why we made the film: to shed light on childhood trauma, past, present and future.

But you don’t need to have suffered a trauma as a child – or even to be in college – to hear this film’s message.

In St. Louis schools, pre-teens and others asked pointed questions:

“How did it feel to stand there, in Dubno, where all those terrible things happened?” inquired one student, referring to Shibennaya Hill, where thousands of Jews from Dubno were massacred. “Did you have nightmares about being there?” (Yes, indeed – and before traveling there, too.)

“Were you surprised that some of the kids in New Orleans were acting just like your mother?” (Shattered, actually.)

At one point, I was walking between classes in a St. Louis school, and a group of students surrounded me in the hallway to ask more questions. Minute by minute, more kids gathered, to talk about the film.

Now I was sure we had made contact.

Since then, invitations to bring the film to various public and religious schools have been picking up.

Once we’ve developed a study guide for “Prisoner of Her Past,” the film’s lessons will be that much more potent.

Howard Reich

Published on November 9th, 2010 by admin
"Prisoner of Her Past" in Warsaw

Photo courtesy of the Warsaw Jewish Historical Institute

One question kept coming up during the Warsaw premiere of “Prisoner of Her Past,” Oct. 18 in an exhibition space near the Jewish Historical Institute.

Though audience members in the SRO crowd phrased it in different ways, they kept returning to the same motif: Why didn’t my mother talk about her Holocaust trauma after the war? Why was she so silent? Wouldn’t she have avoided the disaster of her current PTSD-induced psychosis if she had just told her story? Don’t people who speak about trauma function much better than those who refuse to speak?

If only it were that simple.

For starters, the medical literature suggests that most survivors did not seek psychiatric help; that those who did generally were not helped significantly; that psychiatrists themselves cued survivors not to share the most gruesome details of their experiences (further discussion of these points can be viagra 100 mg too much found in my book “The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich”).

In short, there was virtually no forum through which the survivors could tell their stories, nor did they feel they had the words to describe the chaos and horrors they witnessed and endured.

Yet there were other reasons not to speak, as well.

“Survivors who don’t tell stories are protecting themselves and their listeners,” said Lukasz Biedka, a psychologist who illuminated the panel discussion following can a cialis be cut in half the Warsaw screening.

“The listeners are as helpless to what happened as the survivors themselves. The listeners
wouldn’t know what to do with this story.

“And the survivors didn’t want to expose themselves to not being understood.

“It’s impossible [for the listener] to feel empathy if you haven’t lived through this yourself. And anyway, empathy isn’t enough.”

For the survivors, added Biedka, “It’s a second trauma when you tell people what happened, and they can’t understand.”

One member of the audience – a daughter of survivors – said she would never make a film about her own mother, thereby putting her mother “under a microscope.”

But this sounded to me like an unfortunate plea for more of the old silence.

As a son and as a journalist, I feel compelled to tell this story, to unveil the truth of what happened as I discover it.

Plus, as psychologist Biedka added, “The film is not just about [Sonia’s] PTSD. It’s about Howard working through his own thoughts.”

Post script: Deep thanks to Edyta Kurek cialis and Olga Zienkiewicz, of the Jewish Historical Institute in U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, for organizing this unforgettable event.

— Howard Reich

Published on October 23rd, 2010 by admin

Dr. Helena Klimova (photo courtesy of Prague Jewish Museum)

One of our most enlightening screenings unfolded in Prague,

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American Center, on Oct. coupon free cialis 14. Presented by several organizations, including the Jewish Museum and the U.S. Embassy, the event was striking for who was in the audience (as well as the sweet fact that an additional room had to be opened up to accommodate the overflow).

For starters, several psychiatrists and psychologists from the Rafael Institute offered revelatory insights. They were led by Dr. Helena Klimova (pictured above), a child survivor of the Holocaust herself.

Dr. Klimova pointed out that my mother’s refusal to acknowledge any semblance of her past — as seen in the film — attests to my mother’s iron will.

“The way she defends herself is a sign of her strength,” said Dr. Klimova to viagra made of the crowd. “This is the way she is holding her life together.”

Dr. Klimova, in other words, sees my mother not as a victim of her bestcanadianpharmacy-topmax current psychiatric condition but as a fighter who is ferociously battling a past that continues to haunt her.

Dr. Klimova also emphasized the very different way my mother’s cousin Leon, also a child Holocaust survivor,

has drawn upon his own strength: not by blocking his past but by rushing toward it. Dr. Klimova found Leon quite unusual in this regard, but she said this may point to Leon’s growth since his trauma. “It is possible there may be a development that leads you to mental health” following trauma, she said. She added that the very making of the film is a sign that a second and third generation is able to begin to recover from a family’s trauma.

Other experts analyzed how survivors who had to fend for themselves during the war, as my mother did, were isolated anew

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afterward. For unlike concentration camp survivors, who shared common experiences, the children who ran and hid for their lives experienced singular journeys. The places in which they hid and the people they encountered were unknown to the rest of the world and often unidentified even to themselves.

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alone with their traumas for the rest of their lives.

One observer pointed out that behaviors by my mother that might seem bizarre now — such as packaging and storing little bags of bread — were not strange during strange times. My mother’s unusual rituals regarding food and other aspects of her life may represent her attempt to control a past that she could not control in her childhood and, ironically, does not want to remember now.

But it wasn’t just psychiatrists who shed light on the story of “Prisoner of Her Past.” Also in the audience was the daughter of Vladimir Loukotka, who 70 years ago risked his life to save my mother’s cousin Leon and Leon’s sister, Fanka. When the two orphaned children, Leon

and Fanka, arrived in the tiny farming village of Ozirko, they were barefoot and starving, said Loukotka’s daughter, whose father spoke of them “every day” of his life after the war.

Loukotka died many years ago, and

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his daughter said, “It’s too bad he didn’t live to see this film.” More important, though, Loukotka saw that Leon and Fanka had survived the war, and he knew that he had made that possible.

Loukotka’s widow, Olga, who also helped hide the children, was unable to come to the screening because she recently was hospitalized with a broken hip. But her two grandsons, strapping men in their 30s, attended with their mother (the Loukotkas’ daughter). As the film played, the family seemed to radiate pride in their grandparents’ heroism, and they stayed practically until the place was empty, soaking up a story that was as much theirs as mine.

As the evening drew to a close, one grandson insisted that I meet 84-year-old Olga at the hospital. So on Saturday evening, he indeed picked me up online cialis australia and drove me an hour-and-a-half to Olga’s bedside. She reminisced on how she and Vladimir saved the children.

Why did they risk their lives for Leon and Fanka?

“Because they were children,” said Olga. “With big eyes, crying. That’s all.”

— Howard Reich

Published on September 9th, 2010 by admin

I’m sorry to say that George Kennedy, a personal hero of mine and a champion of “Prisoner of

Her Past,” died Sept. 1 at age 86.

George, a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, was one of the first people to support the film, and he appeared on the panel following our premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center, in April.

George epitomized hope, optimism and courage to everyone lucky enough to have known him. He always used to say to me that he went to see all the Holocaust films, even though the subject is so difficult. Why?

“Because I beat the Nazis,” he would explain.
“I lived.”

— Howard Reich

Published on July 20th, 2010 by admin

Until Tuesday night (July 13), I wondered whether “Prisoner of Her Past” would mean anything to teenagers. Could kids in 21st Century America relate to the story of my mother, who is reliving traumas she experienced in Eastern Europe in WWII?

It all seemed a bit remote.

But the youngsters who crowded into the McCormick Tribune Center at Northwestern University, in Evanston, gave me a swift education in their sophistication, sensitivity and wisdom.

We were screening “Prisoner of Her Past” for journalism students at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute, famously known as the “cherubs” program. Bringing the film here was going to be particularly meaningful for me, because I had been a journalism “cherub” myself – in 1971! And the same Northwestern prof who headed the program back then, Roger Boye, had invited me back to show the movie.

What’s more, two close personal friends would be in the audience: Owen Youngman, a former editor of mine at the Tribune who’s now a Medill professor; and Howard Dubin, an ardent supporter of Medill and of our film, who’s also my cousin.

But as the students settled into their viamedic cialis seats – talking, laughing, joking – I feared they might feel that “Prisoner of Her Past” belonged to some distant time and place. Once the screening began, their silence seemed to confirm my suspicions.

Yet as the story progressed, they gasped at particular passages, laughed at others, then – at the film’s end – burst into shattering applause.

The house lights went up, and they proceeded to shower me with savvy questions: How did it feel to switch from being a lifelong print journalist to working in film? (Thrilling and scary.) How did I deal with the emotion of telling such a personal story? (With some difficulty.) How did I get people in Poland and Ukraine to open up to me? (They seemed eager to talk.) How did my family respond to the idea of making the film? (With tremendous support.) The questions kept coming for over an hour.

Then something even more startling happened. After the Q-and-A session ended, a large group of kids surged to the front of complaint the room to tell me their own stories, one-on-one. Many wept as they recounted what happened to their grandparents in Europe, for sale online and how similar their family narratives were to mine. Others told of relatives who experienced horrors in Japan during World War II … and only reluctantly told their grandchildren the tale.

Over and over, I was struck by the maturity of these students, their awareness of the suffering of their elders and their own heroism in sharing this information with me. Many said they were determined to tell these stories through the course of their careers, to keep the memories alive, to try to help others.

I felt lucky to meet them, talk to them, spend an evening in their presence.

— Howard Reich

Published on July 13th, 2010 by admin

Gordon Quinn & Howard at Tivoli Theater

More than 400 people poured into the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove on Monday night (July 12, 2010), to catch “Prisoner of Her Past.”

Just seeing the film’s title sprawled across this theater’s glorious, glittering marquee was a thrill. You don’t encounter movie houses like this very often anymore. The historic theater, which opened in 1928, has been sumptuously restored, complete with gold-painted lobby (real gold), glowing proscenium and 1924 Wurlitzer organ (which rose up from the orchestra pit to thunder once more).

I guess that’s what going to the movies used to be like.

The event was organized by the great After Hours Film Society. Thanks to board member Allen Carter, who has been championing our film, and executive director Debbie Venezia, who introduced it.

The audience seemed thoroughly in sync with the movie, responding robustly to its humor. The Q-and-A session ran for roughly an hour after the screening, and I was especially moved by two groups of people who talked to me later.

First was a trio of college students who said they’d never seen a film quite like this. They then went on to discuss what the movie meant to them, and how it would make them look differently at older people: seniors in their midst, whose personal tragedies often go unspoken. I exulted that young people – just barely out of their teens – now would carry the message of “Prisoner of Her Past” when they talked to their friends.

Next came a group of women who had read the book that inspired the film, “The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich,” as part of their book club. I told them that if they’d like to have another club meeting, this time with the author present, I’d be happy to oblige. I hope they take me up on it.

Anyone who goes to the trouble of placing tabs throughout the book – to highlight key passages – can call me any time.

— Howard Reich

Published on July 7th, 2010 by admin

The long and thrilling process of making “Prisoner of Her Past,” which began in 2004, has ended.

And the journey to bring the film to audiences around the world has begun.

With this first blog entry, I’ll recap where we’ve shown the film so far, as we prepare to take “Prisoner of Her Past” wherever there’s a screen, an audience and, if possible, a popcorn machine.

Feb. 28, 2010, Illinois Holocaust Museum, Skokie. I always hoped to have the first public screening here, in Skokie, where so many survivors (including my parents) converged after the war. The theater was sold out a couple of weeks in advance for this official “sneak preview,” a crush of visitors packing every inch of the place. Patty White, of the museum staff, gave a stirring introduction, and the crowd laughed, cried and sighed at all the key moments. Dr. David Rosenberg, the brilliant Highland Park psychiatrist who diagnosed my mother with late-onset PTSD, spoke eloquently after the film and helped us address an avalanche of questions from the audience. With so many survivors in the audience, it would have been difficult to imagine a more emotionally charged beginning.

April 9-15, 2010, Gene Siskel Film Center, downtown Chicago. We all felt privileged to be given a weeklong run at this prestigious venue, which justly calls itself “Chicago’s premier movie theater.” Barbara Scharres, director of programming at the Siskel, had been a champion of “Prisoner of Her Past” since its inception, telling me years ago that Kartemquin Films was the best company, by far, to bring my mother’s story to the screen. During the course of this week, I saw “Prisoner of Her Past” 14-1/2 times (sorry – I had to run out for food before one screening). Each screening felt different because each audience responded differently. Some laughed loudly at every hint of humor; some gasped audibly at tragic scenes in the film; some sat almost silent, leaving me to guess what they were thinking.

After each showing (most sold-out or close to it), we opened the floor to questions, and they came flooding in: How is your mother today? (About the same.) Will she see the film? (Doubtful). How did people in Ukraine react to you? (Quite helpfully.) Is there any way to help your mother today? (Apparently not.) After every Q-and-A session, some in the audience continued the conversation in the lobby.

The most dramatic screening unfolded on Sunday afternoon, April 11, with a capacity audience attending the official downtown premiere. Scharres and Tribune editor Gerould Kern offered eloquent opening remarks, and all the filmmakers convened on stage afterward for a panel discussion. To see director Gordon Quinn, editor Jerry Blumenthal, producer Joanna Rudnick and associate producer Zak Piper in one place, at one time (which occurs about as frequently as a lunar eclipse) was to realize anew how much talent, time and devotion had made this moment possible.

This event – and every one before and since – was choreographed by unstoppable Xan Aranda, who routinely makes the impossible possible.

Considering the high-toned production values of the Siskel, I realized – for the first time – that we actually had succeeded in making a movie, and that the quest to bring it to viewers around the planet had just begun.

Howard Reich

Published on May 28th, 2010 by admin

Critically acclaimed as “one of the most emotionally wrenching yet rewarding films” by the Huffington Post, Prisoner of Her Past explores a topic virtually untouched in popular culture and scientific literature: the delayed effects of childhood trauma.

This new film from Gordon Quinn, Jerry Blumenthal, Joanna Rudnick, and Zak Piper –  with Chicago Tribune columnist Howard Reich – is making its way around the world after a wildly successful 15-screening premiere run at the Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago, Illinois) in April and gorgeous Mother’s Day event at the Talking Pictures Festival (Evanston, Illinois.)

Prisoner of Her Past screens at the DocMiami International Film Festival during Memorial Day weekend and later this Summer at the Kos International Health Film Festival in Greece.

Chicagoland viewers may join Reich and Quinn for a theatrical screening and discussion presented by the After Hours Film Society at the Tivoli Theater in Downer’s Grove, Illinois on Monday, July 12 at 7:30 PM.

A considerable variety of local and international engagements are lining up for Autumn, including a showcase of the film at the World Conference of Child Survivors of the Holocaust in November.

A nationwide broadcast of Prisoner of Her Past will take place next Spring, in concurrence with Holocaust Remembrance Day.

– Xan Aranda, Outreach Director

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