With running time at about 55 minutes, the documentary is quite remarkable and is a little known true story. To note, there were no subtitles on my DVD copy.
In the mid to late 1930's as Hitler's scourge against the Jewish people raged in Germany and Europe, the window to get out and emigrate became narrower and narrower. While other nations, including America, showed little to no enthusiasm to take in Jewish or other refugees, the Philippines led by President Manuel Quezon became one of the few to offer help. They had been a colony of the United States, but in 1935 became a semi-independent commonwealth, with a promise of independence in 10 years.
Amazingly enough, the idea to help the Jewish refugees was hatched at a regular poker game attended by President Quezon, then Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower, the newly appointed High Commissioner to the country Paul V. McNutt, and the Frieder Brothers, the owners of the largest tobacco export company on the island.
Although their efforts were often opposed by various forces, including the U.S. State Dept. and powerful figures in the Philippines, the poker playing buddies' plans began to take root and 1,300 Jewish refugees were re-settled on the island, with plans for thousands more. Unfortunately, the brutal occupation of the Philippines by Japan put an end to any further rescue program.
This is a taut and riveting film, directed by Russell C. Hodge and Cynthia-Scott Johnson, with a most able narration by Liev Schreiber. Overall, with its eyewitness accounts and archival footage this doc educated me on a part of WWII and the Holocaust that I had no knowledge of beforehand.
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