Arts and Entertainment

Actor Judd Nelson to join faculty filmmaker at on-campus rough-cut screening

Faculty member Boaz Dvir, right, shares the story of a little-known Holocaust survivor who wound up playing a pivotal role in history's most daring hostage-rescue operation with his film "Cojot." Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Iconic actor Judd Nelson -- John Bender in "The Breakfast Club" -- will join Penn State faculty filmmaker Boaz Dvir on campus April 12 for a dialogue with the audience at the screening of a rough cut of “Cojot.” 

Nelson is the narrator and Dvir is the writer, director and producer of “Cojot,” which tells the little-known story of a Holocaust survivor who set out to kill his father’s Nazi executioner and wound up playing a pivotal role in history’s most daring hostage-rescue operation.

"I was drawn to the project by the powerful gravitational pull of an incredible story,” said Nelson, who has recently done voiceover work for the “Transformers” TV mini-series. “‘Cojot’ proves once again that real life is more fantastic than fiction, and that second chances often come in disguise."

The University Park rough-cut screening – at 7 p.m. April 12 in 108 Forum Building – is free and open to the public. Hosted by Penn State’s Students for Israel, and co-sponsored by the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies and the Jewish Studies Program, the event is part of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day). 

The “Cojot” rough cut includes a placeholder narration recorded by Penn State sophomore journalism major Paddy Cotter, as well as graphics by Penn State junior film-video major Adhyaksh Amarnath, senior integrated arts major Tori Dickson and film-video alumnus Ethan Jones.

During the April 12 event, audience members will have a chance to provide feedback on the rough cut in person and via an anonymous survey. 

“I’m thrilled Judd can join us,” said Dvir, who teaches journalism in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. “Besides wonderful talent, he brings intellectual and spiritual depth to his vital role of guiding viewers through this complex story.” 

The film features interviews with 20 people from around the world. They include Cojot family members, international Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, Operation Entebbe lead pilot Joshua Shani, French historian Vincent Duclert, hidden-children expert Raphaël Delpard and bestselling British author Saul David.

After watching a pre-rough cut screener of the documentary, the Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman recently wrote: "It wasn’t until I saw Boaz Dvir’s very moving forthcoming documentary about him, ‘Cojot,’ that I truly understood Michel’s life, and perhaps the message of it."

Dvir’s "Cojot" co-producers include Penn State associate professor Richie Sherman, who also served as a director of photography; University of Florida associate professor Gayle Zachmann, who also served as the historical consultant; and Matthew Einstein, CEO of Tradition Pictures in Los Angeles. Penn State lecturer Anita Gabrosek edited footage shown at a 2016 preview at the Center for Jewish History in New York. 

Dvir’s previous project, the critically acclaimed PBS documentary, “A Wing and a Prayer,” has screened around the world and won Best Feature Documentary at the 2016 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.

Actor Judd Nelson, who will be the narrator of "Cojot," will attend the April 12 rough-cut screening on the University Park campus. Credit: NBC Today ShowAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated April 02, 2018