“…features big ideas and occasional gunfire… Holstein comes across so vividly and genuinely… feels like an argument for a certain kind of cinematic purity.” – Peter Gutierrez, TribecaFilm
“Excellent!” – Chicago Reader
“Endlessly intriguing…three films chronicling ordinary Americans at their rather extraordinary jobs. Their tiles are self-explanatory and deceptively simple — Sheriff, Musician and Kraus’s latest, Professor. The films, meanwhile, are anything but.” – Movieline
A college education has become part of the American dream. But what are we learning and who is teaching us?
For nearly four decades, Rabbi Jay Holstein has been one of the University of Iowa’s most popular professors. With a foul mouth, a raunchy sense of humor, and a piercing brilliance, Holstein uses massive 500-student lectures to turn inside-out the most fundamental assumptions on topics as divergent as sex, suicide, and the Holocaust. His courses, including “Quest for Human Destiny,” have become the stuff of campus legend, and between firing a Glock and running 10 miles per day, the 69-year-old Holstein spends his office hours wrestling with students over animal experimentation, alcohol use, and homosexuality.
Following the internationally acclaimed cinéma vérité of Sheriff and Musician, Professor tackles intellectual labor and in doing so grapples with some of life’s greatest and most elemental enigmas.
The third film in Daniel Kraus’ WORK Series, a set of independent documentaries designed to create an on-going record of the American worker.
Producers must produce, no matter what the circumstance. For Here and There, which shot in New York and then Belgrade, we faced the burning down of the U.S. embassy and the call for all Americans to leave Serbia. This was the week before we were scheduled to start shooting in Belgrade.
David Thornton, our lead American actor, called me from a diner in Los Angeles. He was eating a sandwich and watching the embassy burn. He was, quite understandably, worried. So I lied to him. “Nothing to worry about,” I said. “It happens every day. It’s actually quite normal. After every soccer match, something burns down.” Somehow, that made David more confident.
Then the U.S. State Department withdrew its staff from Serbia, and suggested all American citizens leave the country. That happened the day we all flew to Serbia. But somehow I convinced the cast and crew to stay and make the movie.
Our tenacity and confidence worked out. The sane majority of Serbs greeted this Serbian-American film with open arms, and collaborated happily on the production. During the shoot, we even tried to set up a meeting of U.S. diplomats and Serbian officials on our set. That didn’t happen, but we still got a mighty fine film.
Here and There opens New York City at the Quad on May 14, Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall on May 21, and many other cities soon after. The film won an award at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, and director Darko Lungulov serves on one of Tribeca’s juries this year.