Filmmaker Aviva Kempner Unearths Major History in 'Rosenwald'

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Stephen Saito spoke with documentarian Aviva Kempner for TheMoveable Fest about her new feature, Rosenfeld. Julius Rosenwald was a Jewish-American businessman who provided funding for some 5,000 schools across the South and Midwest, which were dedicated to providing high quality education to underserved African-American communities.

"Kempner interviews many whose lives were touched by Rosenwald," the piece says. "A list that includes former NAACP President Julian Bond, U.S. Congressman John Lewis, and director George C. Wolfe, and showcases the work of countless more as the film opens up to demonstrate the ongoing ramifications of the Rosenwald Fund, which supported African-American artists far and wide such as Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, Gordon Parks jr., Zora Neale Hurston and Marian Anderson."

The more Kempner researched, the more fascinating stories she found about Rosenwald himself and the people who benefitted from his work. "'Julius Rosenwald in tandem with the mayor of Chicago prevented Birth of a Nation from being shown at Chicago because it was so racist,'" she says. "'Rosenwald was very active in Washington DC, even during World War I. He came for a year to help mastermind and oversee the distribution of supplies for the soldiers. He was also very active in fighting crime and Al Capone.'"

“Rosenwald” opened on August 14 in New York at the Sunshine Cinema and August 28 in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Royal and the Encino Town Center 5. A full list of theaters and dates is here.