Author Anna Olswanger’s book for children titled Greenhorn—based on the true story of an 11-year old Holocaust survivor who comes to a Brooklyn yeshiva in 1946—came to life on the screen this past fall.
Premiere screenings of the short film took place in September at the Landmark NuArt Theatre in L.A. and in October at The Museum of Tolerance in New York. In February, Greenhorn was named a 2015 Audience Award Winner for Best Short Film Drama at the Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival at the Memphis Jewish Community Center. Memphis public television WKNO will air Greenhorn on April 16 and April 17 to commemorate Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The film features excellent performances by the young lead actors Leo Hojnowski and Giorgio Poma.
Olswanger and Whitus join forces in 2013
Tom Whitus adapted the screenplay of Greenhorn from Anna Olswanger's book of the same name. The book and the film are based on a true story that Olswanger heard from Rabbi Rafael Grossman, Senior Rabbi Emeritus of Baron Hirsch Congregation, while she was living in Memphis. In it, a young Holocaust survivor named Daniel arrives in 1946 at a Brooklyn yeshiva. He is befriended by Aaron, a boy with a stutter, and the two of them stand up to the bullies who make fun of them—Aaron because of his stutter and Daniel because of the small box (with its terrible secret) that he won't let out of his sight.
Olswanger says that because even the youngest survivors will soon be gone, children today may grow up without a direct connection to the Holocaust. “Greenhorn, along with other Holocaust films and books, could be their only connection. We intend Greenhorn to be a film for the next generation."
The cast and crew
The film stars Hojnowski as Aaron (based on Rabbi Grossman), the boy with a stutter who wants to be a rabbi when he grows up, and Poma as Daniel. The other boys in the yeshiva are played by Tim Borowiec, Zaki Sky, Zane Beers and Matt Oliva. Manny Lieberman co-stars as Rabbi Ehrlich, the teacher. Sandra and Harris L. Cohen executive produced the film.
Whitus directed the film with Andrew Walton and Steven Clark serving as cinematographers. Scott Irick edited the film, Ray Soldiuk created the audio design, and Kinny Landrum composed the score, which also includes an original composition "Sutton's Lick" by the late Berl Olswanger, well-known Memphis musician and the father of Anna Olswanger.
Greenhorn was shot in New York City at The Actors’ Temple in midtown Manhattan, with exteriors in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood adjacent to the temple. Other interiors were shot at Joria Productions in Manhattan and in Louisville, Kentucky.
The 30-minute film will air on WKNO on 4/16 at 9:30 p.m. on WKNO (10.1), 4/17 at 2:30 a.m. on WKNO (10.1), and 4/17 at 10:30 p.m. on WKNO2 (10.2).
The Museum of Tolerance in New York will also screen Greenhorn at 1:00 p.m. on April 19.
For information about future screenings of the film, contact Anna Olswanger or Tom Whitus.
For more information about the book Greenhorn, contact NewSouth Books.
Visit the Greenhorn & Friends page on Pinterest.