Faculty member's film to screen at Columbia University's campus in Paris

January 28, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Columbia University Alumni Association in France is hosting a rough-cut screening of a Penn State professor’s post-Holocaust documentary, "Cojot," at 7 p.m. March 6.

A suspenseful character study, "Cojot" tells the virtually unknown story of a Holocaust survivor who set out to kill his father’s Nazi executioner and ended up playing a key role, as a hostage, in one of history’s most daring rescue operations.

The screening — which will take place at Reid Hall, Columbia’s Global Center in Paris (4 Rue de Chevreuse, 75006) — will serve as an unofficial reunion of Operation Entebbe rescuers and hostages. They include:

  • Operation Entebbe lead pilot Joshua Shani, a retired Israeli Air Force Brigadier General;
  • Rami Sherman, a retired Israel Defense Forces Elite Unit member who served as served as operations officer during the Entebbe raid; and
  • several former hostages, including Olivier Cojot, Monique Epstein (an Air France flight attendant), and Jacques Lemoine, who was the Air France flight engineer.

"Cojot" is written, directed and produced by Penn State faculty member Boaz Dvir, an award-winning filmmaker ("Jessie’s Dad," "A Wing and a Prayer") and an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism. In recent months, he has screened the rough cut to more than 1,300 people in Philadelphia, Baltimore and other U.S. cities.

Narrated by actor Judd Nelson ("The Breakfast Club," "St. Elmo’s Fire"), "Cojot" has been generating a buzz. For instance, The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman 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.”

Penn State’s National Public Radio station, WPSU, recently devoted an episode of its “Take Note” to the film. 

The film's 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 serves 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 of the project in New York.   

Dvir’s previous film, 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. Dvir recently presented it at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

Last Updated January 30, 2019