Can you believe it's already been two decades since Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning Schindler's List was released? In recognition of the film's 20th Anniversary, Universal Studios Home Entertainment is releasing a limited edition Blu-ray book of the film on March 5 and they have also partnered with the USC Shoah Foundation to globally launch the IWitness Video Challenge.
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"I set out to use this archive to teach tolerance in schools all over this world," says Spielberg. "We want this to be very accessible to students."
The IWitness Video Challenge is a program for middle and high school students that brings testimonies into the classroom. Students will determine how to best use some of those compelling testimonies to better their community, and then build a video essay telling the story of how they helped to make the world a better place. The student creator of the most impactful video will be invited to Los Angeles next year to show the video as part of the USC Shoah Foundation's 20th anniversary.
"The idea behind the challenge is the same idea as what was behind Schindler's List," says Spielberg. "That profound change can occur when even one person makes a positive choice."
Back in 1994, Spielberg established the USC Shoah Foundation to videotape interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. Over the past two decades, close to 52,000 eyewitness testimonies have been recorded in 56 countries and in 32 languages, and Spielberg says that the Foundation is planning to branch out and record the stories of other genocide survivors, including the Armenian, Rwandan and Cambodian genocides.
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In order to keep the memories of Holocaust survivors alive, Spielberg says, "I implore educators not to allow the Holocaust to be a footnote in history, please teach this in your schools. There are 350,000 experts who just want to be useful for the remainder of their lives. Please listen to the words and the echoes and the ghosts and please teach this in your schools.”