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Filmmaker will discuss documentary on baseball great Hank Greenberg

Filmmaker Aviva Kempner will introduce and discuss her award-winning documentary, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, about a young baseball player who challenged Babe Ruth’s home run record and became an unlikely American hero, at a screening at 1:30 p.m Sunday at Whitaker Auditorium.

The pre-film talk and screening, which are sponsored by Lehigh’s Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies and the Jewish Community Center’s Jewish and Israeli Film Series, are open to the public and free of charge. Tickets are not required.

Kempner devoted 13 years of her life to writing, directing, and producing the witty and compelling documentary about “Hammerin’” Hank Greenberg, the former Detroit Tiger who transcended religious prejudice to become a beacon of hope to American Jews who faced bigotry during the Depression and World War II.

The collage of 47 interviews include Greenberg himself; members of his family; sports figures Ira Berkow, Ernie Harwell, Joe Falls and Dick Schaap; fellow players Bob Feller, Charlie Gehringer and Ralph Kiner; fans Alan Dershowitz, U.S. Rep. Sander Levin and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin; and actors Walter Matthau, Michael Moriarty, and Maury Povich. The film also features famous scenes from such Hollywood classics as Gentleman's Agreement, Night at the Opera, Pride of St. Louis and Woman of the Year , as well as dramatic historical footage.

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg won numerous awards, including the Peabody Award, Best Documentary from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, and the New York Film Critics Choice for Best Non-Fiction Film.

Kempner, who has investigated the untold stories of Jewish heroes in several films, produced Partisans of Vilna, about Jewish resistance against the Nazis. She also made the tragicomic film, Today I Vote for My Joey, about the 2000 Palm Beach election results. She is currently writing a script about Gertrude Berg, the creator of “The Goldbergs” on radio and television.

For more information, call (610) 758-3352.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005

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