In the spirit of Louis Malle’s “Au Revoir les Enfants” and Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” the Emmy® Award-winning documentary “The Children of Chabannes” has been called “a moving record of the unassuming, uncompromising heroism of ordinary people” (New York Times) and “one of the most heartening Holocaust films ever made: splendid, informative and emotionally involving.” (Los Angeles Times)
“The Children of Chabannes” is the story of how the people of Chabannes, a tiny village in unoccupied France, chose action over indifference and saved the lives of 400 Jewish refugee children during World War II. Inspired by a reunion more than 50 years after the war, Lisa Gossels (“My So-Called Enemy”), and co-director Dean Wetherell, travel to Chabannes with Lisa’s father Peter and uncle Werner (two of the saved children). The film tells the story of how the teachers and townspeople, children of the French Revolution – who believed in the values of “liberty and equality” – worked with the OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants), a Jewish child welfare organization, to shelter, nurture, and educate the children. Through intimate interviews with historians, teachers, OSE employees and “children” of Chabannes, the filmmakers recreate the joys and fears of daily life in the village. When a round-up led by the Vichy police leads to the deportation of 6 children in August of 1942, the oasis of hope is shattered. Through moving accounts by the extraordinary teachers who taught and loved these children, the film shows the remarkable efforts made by the citizens of Chabannes, who risked their lives and livelihoods to make sure that not one other child became a victim of the war.
“The Children of Chabannes” is not just a story about the past; it is an exploration of moral courage and goodness in the face of evil – of what motivates individuals to take a stand against injustice, bigotry and extremism. The film embodies the ideals of progressive education: celebrating inclusion and the embracing of cultural and religious differences.
Relevant Subject Areas:
Education, European History, French Language, Global Studies, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Human Rights, Intercultural Communications, International Relations, Jewish Studies, Religious Studies, Refugee Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Political Science, Psychology and Social Studies.