Andrea co-founded Jezebel Productions with Greta Schiller in 1984 as a nonprofit film company devoted to making inspiring and entertaining films about real people. Here are just a few of the films Andrea directed. For more information about Jezebel Productions, our history, purpose, board of directors, new projects, complete list of titles and ordering information, visit the Jezebel Productions site, www.jezebel.org.
Bones of Contention explores the theme of historical memory in Spain, focusing on the repression of lesbians and gays under Franquismo. What happened to LGBT people during the Franco regime? This film uncovers their stories and breaks their silence for the first time.
Lining the roads of Spain, masked by miles and miles of pine trees, are unmarked graves in which over a hundred fifty thousand victims of the Franco regime are buried. Today the families of the disappeared lead a grassroots effort to uncover and identify the bones of their loved ones. Invisible to the eye but hyper-visible in the mind, these mass graves of Spain’s missing persons are an apt metaphor for the historical memory conundrum. How does a country excavate a past that is actively suppressed?
It is impossible to know the scale of violent repression that took place during Spain’s long decades of fascism. The ordinary, everyday terrors were rarely noted in the ledger book of history. Gay men were sent to prison where they were raped and tortured or, later, to “correction camps” where they received shock therapy. Straight women were sentenced to another kind of prison: subjugated to their husbands, they were denied divorce and access to birth control to guarantee no escape. And lesbians? What was it like for them, independent women swimming powerfully against the tide during the Spanish Republic, only to drown in the tsunami of fascism? The ledger book goes blank.
This documentary essay ruminates on the theme of historical memory, unearths the untold story of LGBT experience under Franco, and considers how the historical memory movement in Spain serves as a site of struggle and resistance against official narratives.
2000, 85 mins
Written and directed by Andrea Weiss and Wieland Speck
Producer: Greta Schiller
Narrated by Corin Redgrave as Klaus Mann
and Vanessa Redgrave as Erika Mann
Escape to Life, the result of a remarkable pairing between fiction and non-fiction filmmakers, depicts an even more remarkable relationship. Erika and Klaus Mann, the brilliant eldest children of German author Thomas Mann, claimed to be identical twins, despite being born more than a year apart and of different genders. Living under the shadow of Hitler’s rise, Erika and Klaus were intellectuals, homosexuals, and pacifists who lived as exiles. Erika was an actress whose satirical revues were censored throughout Europe. Klaus was a self-doubting writer whose banned novel, Mephisto, didn’t become a bestseller until long after his suicide. Filled with contradictions, their fascinating lives stand as a testament to the power of the individual — and art — against the forces of history. Weiss and Speck weave a seamless blend of dramatic scenes, compelling interviews, and amazing archival footage.
1998, 26 mins
Directed and edited by Andrea Weiss
Produced by Greta Schiller and Andrea Weiss
in association with the Banff Centre for the Arts
and New York State Council on the Arts
Based on the memoir “Seed of Sarah” by Judith Magyar Isaacson and the electronic opera “Seed of Sarah” by Mark Polishook.
A video collage of song and remembrance. The story is based on Judith Magyar Isaacson’s highly acclaimed memoir recounting her real-life story as a young Hungarian girl growing up during the tumutluous years of WWII and the Holocaust. The film follows Judith’s present day journey back to the places of her past, reflecting an interior journey to recover memories she had long repressed as a means of survival.
Based on the electronic chamber opera by Mark Polishook the libretto was drawn from the memoirs of Judith Magyar Isaacson. The film’s soundtrack is a contemporary electronic opera for one voice, featuring acclaimed vocalist Angelina Reaux. Staged scenes from the opera, together with rare archive footage and private family photos, combine to create a haunting tale of a young woman’s coming of age.
2008, 56 mins
Directed and Edited by Andrea Weiss
with the collaboration of my amazing graduate students in film/video at the City College of New York (as follows):
Camera: Octavio Warnock-Graham, Carmen Vidal Balanzat
Sound: Elisabeth Harris, Ira Blanchard
Co-editor: Ira Blanchard
Associate Producer: Anjanette Levert
Production Manager: Nikki Brake
U.N. Fever follows three teams of college students as they prepare to compete in the international Model U.N. competition held annually in New York City. These passionate young people are among our future world leaders. They seek real-life solutions to today’s global crises. The film peers into their lives as they undergo the dramas, breakdowns and triumphs of this challenging, life-altering experience. This is a real-life story leaving audiences feeling hopeful about the next generation and its commitment to world peace, human rights and justice.