The Falmouth Jewish Congregation presents a free, public screening of the documentary film Life in Stills on Thursday, February 6 at 7:00 P.M. in the Blanche & Joel D. Seifer Community Center. This event, funded by the Jewish Federation of Cape Cod, includes a screening of this Israeli Ophir award-winner for Best Documentary along with a post-screening talk by one of the film’s subjects, Ben Peter.
Life in Stills tells the story of one family’s efforts to save a family legacy and an Israeli treasure. At the age of 96, Miriam Weissenstein never imagined that she would be facing a new chapter in her life. But when "The Photo House" – her late husband Rudi’s life’s work and one of Israel’s most valuable and monumental private archives of historical photographs – was destined for demolition, even this opinionated and uncompromising woman knew she needed help. Under the cloud of a family tragedy, a special relationship is forged between Miriam and her grandson, Ben, as they join forces to save the shop and its nearly one million negatives that document Israel’s defining moments. Despite the generation gap and many conflicts, Ben and Miriam embark on a heart-wrenching journey, comprising many humorous and touching moments – a journey that requires a lot of love, courage, and compassion.
Shimon Rudolph Weissenstein was born in Iglau, today part of the Czech Republic. From 1928 to 1931 he studied graphic design, printing, photography and archive management at the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt (Institute for Teaching and Research in Graphic Arts) in Vienna, where he also attended courses on music, psychology and philosophy. When Weissenstein immigrated to Palestine in 1936, he just arrived with a camera, his press ID and 10 lira. There he worked as a freelance photojournalist for newspapers and press abroad. In 1940 Weissenstein founded the Pri-Or PhotoHouse in Tel Aviv. The archive can still be viewed there today. His clients were personalities who would later become Israel’s leaders: Golda Meir, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and many others. On May 14, 1948 he was the only official photographer asked to record the signing ceremony for the State of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. His photograph of David Ben-Gurion at the reading of the Declaration made Weissenstein world-famous.
Primarily taken between the 1930s and the 1970s, Weissenstein‘s photographs capture a multifaceted Israel during the early years of its formation. On his travels through the country, he documented the arrival of Jewish immigrants, the construction of new settlements and industries, the kibbutz collectives and Bedouin Arabs, as well as military parades, cultural events and scenes from everyday life. He also followed the work of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for 40 years and worked intermittently for the United Nations.