“The Number On Great-Grandpa’s Arm”

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In recognition, HBO premieres a 19-minute documentary. “The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm” features 90-year-old Jack Feldman, and his 10-year-old great-grandson Elliott. They talk honestly and emotionally about the tattoo on Feldman’s forearm — plus his life in Poland, Auschwitz, and finally America.

The Chicago Tribune calls the film “impeccably crafted (and) warmly poetic.”

Director Amy Schatz says, “I was so moved to see their body language, the way they snuggled up with each other. The way they hold hands and lean on each other, it’s powerful to see that.”

The conversation between the old man and young boy is compelling. But the documentary is made even more powerful by hundreds of animated drawings from Westport filmmaker/painter Jeff Scher.

“The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm” premiered last Sunday at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. A gallery with 500 of Scher’s paintings from the film will be displayed for 3 months. The artwork then goes on tour nationwide.

Earlier today, HBO also posted a video on the animation process. It includes a very interesting visit to Scher’s Westport studio.

“It’s hard to spend every day drawing a child’s face, marching down a corridor to their doom,” he says.

But he did it. The result is important for everyone — especially today’s kids.

And especially today.

Click below for HBO’s behind-the-scenes video:

4 responses to ““The Number On Great-Grandpa’s Arm”

  1. Absolutely stunning work by Jeff Scher! A true artist, in every sense of the word. He takes a story, embellishes it with the truth, and moves the narrative forward. Remarkable.

  2. On this remberance day I am traveling on on a train to Salzburg after skiing in the Alberg Region of Austria with one of my daughters, her husband and my wife,Sandi.It has been a dream of mine to ski in Austria,the birthplace of both my parents who verse from Vienna.They met in Chicago both having left Austria in 1938 in their teens to luckily escape the
    horror that would come.My grandfather had one of the finest men’s stores in Vienna, called Unger, lost it all but came to this country in his fifties and started a business Unger Yarns importing the finest of yarns from around the world.

    And here I am rolling along on a train in this beautiful country and having read this posting and another by a friend of this somber anniversary, I found the story of this film compelling.

    My mother who is almost ninety eight years old was very excited that we were returning to her homeland to ski as she had done as a young girl. One of the lucky ones to flee,there are certainly mixed emotions in her heart about her homeland ; her memories of the cultural life of Vienna are balanced by the history of Austria’s roll in this tragedy.

    And so we journey to enjoy the present but to honor the past .This beautiful documentary will surely present this tragic time in history in a way that is meaningful for all to understand in a sensitive way. So honored to know a Westporter had such a big roll in this film.

    My thoughts on a train to Salzburg.

  3. Richard Fogel

    thank you

  4. Just watched the HBO presentation. So very worthwhile.