About the Film
When a loved one dies we mourn their absence, and we regret all the things we might have known of them and shared with them with more time. In 1991, Donald Johnson succumbed to cancer. He was a family man, a grandfather, a veteran, and a medic. Among his possessions were sixteen photographs taken while he was at war. These pictures were a family secret, mentioned only in whispers.
Twenty years later his grandson, filmmaker Matthew Nash, set out to find the photos and understand their story. Beginning in a quiet Vermont town, he dug into the darker corners of his family history, eventually uncovering the pictures. These photos of horrible scenes, taken by a soldier entering the first of the concentration camps liberated by Allies during World War II, were each marked with one word: Ohrdruf.
Nash's investigation of the photographs leads him to historians who reveal a side of the Holocaust that he had never imagined, and to survivors with heartbreaking stories. In trying to understand his pictures, he turns his focus to the soldiers who liberated the camps. Nash finds Ralph Rush and hears the amazing and shocking story of the liberation of Ohrdruf concentration camp, the first camp liberated by the Allies. His attempt to understand his grandfather's pictures has brought him face to face with the anger, the horror and the guilt that those first young soldiers felt when they encountered the atrocities of the Nazis.
16 Photographs At Ohrdruf is the journey of one grandson, trying to understand the brutal and terrible scenes preserved in sixteen forgotten pictures. In his investigation, Nash offers a voice for anyone who has ever wondered what is hidden from us, and what history might be uncovered in our families if we would only ask.
Watch The Film
On April 4, 2013 we will celebrate the end of this fundraiser with a screening at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. If you would like to see 16 Photographs At Ohrdruf and meet the director, click here for more information.
Why We Need Your Support
This film was a labor of love for everyone involved, and we want to share this story with the world. By donating to this film, you will be helping ensure that the story of the liberation of Ohrdruf is kept alive. Your money will be used in two very important ways:
- Paying the people who made the film happen. With such a small budget, we used our money wisely but we also had to make tough choices. The team that did the final editing and post-production worked as volunteers because they believe wholeheartedly in the story – but they deserve to be paid. 30% of any money raised in this campaign will pay these generous professionals for their hard work!
- Getting the film out into the world. Hey, it costs money to enter film festivals, to travel to screenings with the film, to print posters and press kits and DVDs. We will use your money to set up screenings and events around the country for people to see the film and hear the story of the sixteen photographs at Ohrdruf.
To thank you for your generosity, we'll send you perks that allow you to watch and share the film, as well as enhancements that give you a unique insight into the story and the photographs. Own a small book showing all of the photos, or a large Director's Scrapbook of research notes, scripts and details from the production. Have your own DVD of the film, or even see your name on screen so everyone can know how much you support independent film!
The first screenings of 16 Photographs At Ohrdruf are scheduled for April 4, 2013 at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA (more info here). These screenings mark the 68th anniversary of the Ohrdruf liberation.
What better way to celebrate the first public showings of this film than by helping support the people who made it? Your generosity and support will go a long way toward sharing this story and making sure this moment in Holocaust history is not lost. 16 Photographs At Ohrdruf offers a unique perspective on those shocking days in April 1945. Your support helps preserve the stories of veterans and survivors, offering a challenge to viewers to do their own part to preserve this history while we still have witnesses to ask.
A Personal Note From Matthew Nash
Thank you for considering this film, and I hope you'll support it. It was a story I couldn't help but tell, and the years of work have been worth it. I can't express how important it is for me to share these experiences with the world. I will cherish forever my time with the veterans and survivors I met throughout the project and the historians, researchers and fellow travelers I met as I tried to figure out what happened in April of 1945.
This final push is the hardest for me, having worked so hard these past 2 years, because I want to do it right. The whole team has gone above and beyond to tell this story and I owe it to them to get this film on screen, into festivals and theaters. Of course, I also believe that they should be paid for their work, and your support will help make that happen.
So thanks again for considering this project, your generosity is appreciated beyond measure!
Help Out in Other Ways
Whether or not you choose to donate to this project, please consider helping out in other ways.
- Come to a screening on April 4th! Tell your friends to come out. It's free and open to the public (more info here).
- Encourage your friends to support this campaign. Spread the word! It's a topic that connects many people of all backgrounds, so share this link and the official website!
- Follow us on Facebook!
454 Productions is a project of The Smith Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.