Thursday, September 10, 2015
Rosenwald Review - 3½ Stars
Washington DC Documentarian Aviva Kempner specializes in usual and stirring stories of Jewish life. Her new film “Rosenwald” tells the story of Julius Rosenwald whose sharp investing skills made him CEO and a major owner of Sears & Roebuck — the Amazon.com of the early 20th Century. Having amassed a fortune he turned his attention to the plight of Blacks in America in the 1900’s. He began by funding YMCA facilities for Blacks, then moved into the role of education benefactor. Rosenwald gave the seed money for a series of “Rosenwald” schools throughout the south. The schools often provided the only chance for many Southern blacks to get an education. A later fund providing Rosenwald grants to artists showcases a “who’s who” of Black culture in the 1930’s and 40’s. Sometimes Kempner fills her frame with old film clips which I found distracting. Her early sections tracing Rosenwald’s roots get a little confusing. The overall story of a white American Jew helping a generation denied opportunity filled me with hope. “Rosenwald” includes a clip of Julius commenting on the lack of connection between a man’s fortune and his brainpower. “Most people are of the opinion that because a man has made a fortune, his opinions on any subject are valuable. Don’t be fooled…there is ample proof to the contrary.” That’s a message for our time. Does it deliver what it promises? Great interesting story. Is it entertaining? Zips right along. Is it worth the price of admission? Well worth seeing.