Nancy Spielberg Interview
Our team meets Nancy Spielberg at a private screening for her documentary ‘Above And Beyond’. The event was organised by the inspiring Rabbi of Chabad Belgravia London, Rabbi Mendel Kalmenson, for an audience of fifty people at the Notting Hill cinema.
The film tells the untold true story of American pilots who risked their lives volunteering to fight during Israel’s 1948 Independence War. The pilots played a major role in winning the war against all odds and paved the way towards the establishment of the Israeli Air Force. Until today the story has never been told and Nancy Spielberg is the first person to document it and provide the pilots with a voice.
Sadly, since completion of the documentary, four of the pilots have passed away from old age, but at least they got to tell their remarkable stories and receive the recognition they rightly deserve, hopefully passing at peace knowing that their stories will live on forever, thanks to Nancy’s work. All of Spielberg’s documentaries are not-for-profit, as the passionate producer uses them for historical purposes and as educational tools. To achieve this mission she is currently raising £250,000 to complete two projects.
How do you recall your childhood and when was your first experience in films?
My childhood was a lot of fun. We grew up in Arizona surrounded by nature. My family and I would go camping and fishing and at night watch the night skies. From around the age of six I started acting in my brother’s films, as he managed to get all the family involved. I have two sisters, Anne (script writer) and Sue (business marketeer) and together we were the cast and special effects team. One time I remember sitting in a dentist chair and by using a power drill we created a lot of suspense and fear. Steven shot the shadow of the drill projected on the wall rather than showing the action, my sisters held the lights and my role was to scream in fear. From a young age I loved writing and would spend hours penning short stories and illustrating them.
When did you realise that your brother was a cinematic genius?
To be honest, it took us some time to realise, because when you live with a genius so closely and watch their evolution, you are not even aware that it’s happening until you are hit with it with full force. Growing up, we had absolutely no idea that Steven would achieve such international success. When he was young he had a lot of troubles at school and he did not get good grades; in fact, the first time Steven applied to film school he was rejected. I think that the first time my family recognised that Steven was a genius was in 1969 when he directed Joan Crawford in an episode for a television series called ‘Night Gallery’. It was a stunning piece and I think that this was the moment we all sensed that he was going to be in this area. We’re all very proud of his achievements.
Which documentaries are you currently making?
I am the executive producer of a film that started its festival screenings this summer called ‘On The Map’ directed by the talented Israeli producer Dani Menkin. The title is a very famous phrase told by American basketball player Tal Brody after leading Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv to an epic victory in 1977 against the much superior Russian team of CSKA Moscow. It represented a time when Israel would not be beaten, and in a classic David and Goliath story, there was a miracle on hardwood. Another film I am producing is called ‘Who Will Write our History’. It is the story of a secret group in the Warsaw ghetto, a group of Jews who knew that they probably would not survive the war, so they decided to write diaries and amass documents in the hope that these would scream the truth to the world about what the Germans were doing to the Jews. They buried these documents in milk cans and tin boxes and after the war, only three people from this secret group survived and went back to search for these documents in the destruction and rubble.
We have to make more audio visuals to preserve Jewish history as children read less ” Nancy Spielberg President, Playmount Productions
How do you choose which films to make?
All the documentaries I produce are not-for-profit as they are made for historical and educational purposes. Therefore, I seek donations from Foundations and private individuals who understand the importance of providing tools to teach our children history, mostly since our children don’t want to read any more books in black and white. Seeing and hearing from the people who lived and breathed these experiences is an incredibly powerful tool. The stories that resonate with me are mostly ones that preserve our Jewish heritage. These are stories that if not preserved will be lost and our children will never know of these incredible heroes.
Which charities do you support?
My philanthropy work mainly surrounds helping sick children; for example, the ‘Children of Chernobyl’ and ‘Project Sunshine’ charities. I enjoy supporting the arts; for instance the ‘Jerusalem Academy of Music And Dance’ and I also work with a group that aims to build an artists residence in Israel for artists. We also support soup kitchens - a great way to give back to the community.
JESSICA KATZ (daughter of Nancy Spielberg) - You recently left NYC and moved to Israel. Why?
Tomer Ben, CEO & Founder of Solomon Mines with Nancy Spielberg
Artist Jessica Katz (daughter of Nancy Spielberg
From a young age I always felt a strong connection with Israel and when I turned 18, I realised that I wanted to live there. I went to a Zionist camp and spent a year volunteering with young Jews from all over the world. Now I live permanently in Tel Aviv and I truly enjoy the city. Will I be here forever? I don’t know, but it’s now my home for the foreseeable future.
You appeared on ‘The Voice’. How has this experience been for you and what are your career goals?
My experience on ‘The Voice’ was really special. I got to do two things that I love: music and television. Since then I have been performing with a band in Tel Aviv where we do a lot of cover songs; however, we do manage to sneak in a few originals too. I write my own lyrics that are mostly about love and all of its many facets, but I do write a lot about other topics such as war, joy, hope, dreams, relationships and religion. I currently host a radio show and my latest single has reached no. 4 of the Beatport Israel chart (EDM), so I am really happy to be doing the things I love whilst living here.
See Nancy Spielberg’s latest films at: Playmountproductions.com