An 86 year old Holocaust Survivor named Janine and a young American rapper called Kapoo collaborate to deliver a Hip-Hop message to the youth of the world. For the first time, one of the darkest stories ever is told in an entirely new way, culminating in something very contemporary, different and uniquely challenging.
When we made this film, we wanted to try something new. We wanted to change the rules of film-making and storytelling, in order to bring a crucial part of history to a younger audience in a way they may never have heard it. So we had to break with our own conventions of craft. We used an edit suite like a recording studio, 'playing' Premiere pro as if it were a musical instrument. At the same time, the track was created alongside, in the same room, often at the same desk, instinctively bouncing between sound and vision.
The shape of the film took on a life of it's own, evolving, mutating, generating it's own beat and pulse and storyline, always told from the truth of Janine's words.
Suddenly, characters appeared in our minds that needed to be brought to life on screen - the young girl, for example, played with a maturity and insight by Issy Burnham. To take that even further, she co-composed her own melody for the part where she sings, the notes coming intuitively from her interaction with Janine's story, harmonies evolving in a spur-of-the-moment improvisation.
And Kapoo, with Janine's words in his headphones, rapping to a rhythm of tragedy that he was hearing without rehearsal or preparation. That's Soul. Beyond differences of race, religion, gender or belief. Timeless.
And yet... as tragic and painful as this story is, we have tried to avoid anger, bitterness, negativity or hatred. Because these are precisely the emotions that Janine herself fights against on a daily basis as she takes her message of Hope and Love to young people wherever she is able to find an audience willing to listen.
Working with her has been both unforgettable and a privilege. I sincerely hope that, with this film 'Edek' I have managed to repay just a little of what she has given to others.
Who is Edek? Perhaps, in some way, he is each and every one of us, if we can only find the courage inside.
With thanks to the UK National Holocaust Museum and Centre for their help and support.
‘Edek’ has won prizes at the following BAFTA and Oscar recognised festivals:
Global Shorts Festival; San Diego International Film Festival; ; JellyFest; Dumbo Film Fest; Oslo Independent Film Festival;; Moscow Film Festival; Flickerfest International Film Festival; Canada Shorts Festival; Best Shorts Competition; Gold Movie Awards; Norwich Film Festival; British Documentary Film Festival; Wimbledon International Film Festival; Miami Independent Film Festival; Atlanta Docufest; Audience Awards International Documentary Festival; WOFF Festival; Docs Without Borders Festival; Leeds International Film Festival; Warsaw Jewish Film Festival; UKJFF; Toronto JFF Festival; Aesthetica; San Francisco JFF;