As part of its 18th year celebrating the independent film genre, the Garden State Film Festival will premiere the award-winning 2020 documentary “Determined” online on March 29 at 3 p.m.. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s film presentation will only be virtual.
In this feature-length film, Avraham Perlmutter, now 92 and a resident of Los Angeles, recounts how he outwitted the Nazis from the age of 11 and overcame every obstacle standing in his way through quick thinking and indomitable courage. But more than a tale of survival, “Determined” is a testament to the “heroes,” practitioners of human kindness, whom he was fortunate enough to encounter along his dark and dangerous journey to liberation.
“Determined” is based upon the 2014 Wall Street Journal best-selling memoir and e-book by Perlmutter in collaboration with his daughter, Keren Perlmutter. The documentary has already been awarded with the festival’s Music Award for its triumphant score at the end of the film. The background music for the documentary was created by noted composer Steven Chesne of Batman fame.
Keren, Avraham’s youngest child of four, is a scientist and electrical engineer by profession and directed the documentary. Following her passion as a researcher, she collaborated with her father on the prize-winning novel “Determined.” Adding to her father’s 1997 testimony for the Shoah Foundation, Keren took it upon herself to retrace his steps in the Netherlands to fill in the blanks. Her research took her to the Hague and other locations where she was able to access information about the Kindertransport that brought her father to the Netherlands. She was able to access photos of the refugee camps where he had spent time and learned to play a mean game of soccer. She visited and consulted with the Beijers, the Dutch Catholic family from the village of Grubbenvorst who hid her father and embraced him as one of their own. She was also treated to an interview with Jan Smit who worked alongside Joop Westerweel, the noted Dutch humanitarian who saved hundreds of Jews through his courageous efforts. In 2017, Keren addressed a large symposium in the Netherlands exploring the efforts of the Dutch to save their Jews during WWII.
The senior Perlmutter has only recently retired from business. In addition to the autobiography and the recent documentary, over the past 10 years, the Perlmutters, father and daughter, have addressed thousands of students and adult audiences in schools and museums in and around California and throughout the U.S.
Keren herself is active with many Holocaust-related organizations including The L.A. Museum of Tolerance and The Jewish Federation's "Caring for Jews in Need" committee.
Keren explained, “For the last several years my father and I have jointly given talks to thousands of people, young and older, at schools, museums and other venues to share his inspirational life story. We have been so moved to see how audiences have responded to his story about the importance of helping others in need, being determined to overcome obstacles, and to pursue one’s dream and obtain an education. We hope this documentary will enable this message to inspire a wider audience.”
After his liberation, Avraham reunited with his father and sister in Palestine where he served in the Haganah and the IDF. Realizing that education was the key to a secure future, he taught himself math and physics and was accepted into the finest aeronautical engineering program in the U.S. at the time, Georgia Institute of Technology. After graduating with a Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania, he founded a business in Philadelphia and then moved it to L.A. He raised two sons who grew up to be lawyers and two daughters who followed in his footsteps as engineers. He is the proud grandfather of five, whom he hopes will be inspired by and inspire others with his story.
Tickets for the world premiere of “Determined: The Story of Holocaust Survivor Avraham Perlmutter” are available at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4497458.
The trailer can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/397719160.
More information about the film is available at www.determinedstory.com.
By Pearl Markovitz