History Channel Announces “No Place On Earth” Documentary About Underground Survival During Nazi Terror
NO PLACE ON EARTH will tell the amazing adventure story of the longest recorded underground survival in human history.
TO SURVIVE THE NAZI TERROR OF WWII A GROUP OF JEWISH FAMILIES FROM UKRAINE ATTEMPT TO SAVE THEIR OWN LIVES BY HIDING IN A PITCH BLACK CAVE. PREMIERING SEPTEMBER 10, 2012 AT THE TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
New York, NY, August 15, 2012 – via press release from History Channel – HISTORY, in collaboration with Sierra/Tango Productions, announces the world premiere of the documentary NO PLACE ON EARTH at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10th. This is a dramatic, true story of survival under the harshest and most unfathomable conditions, with a daily threat of death literally feet away. It’s a story that was kept hidden within the survivors’ families for five decades.
In 1942, five desperate Jewish families (38 people) escaped the Nazis by descending into a muddy hole near where they lived in southwest Ukraine. They would have no idea that the pitch-black cave they discovered would be their home for nearly a year. When the cave dwellers finally emerged they were greeted by a blinding sun that some of the children had forgotten existed.
In 1993, cave explorer Chris Nicola was mapping one of the world’s most extensive horizontal cave systems with a group of elite Ukrainian cavers. He discovered unusual objects: buttons, shoes, a grinding stone, even a rusty, old house key. Over the next 9 years, Nicola pieced together a most unbelievable story: with no gear or training, a desperate group had lived in this cave for months on end, and survived.
In what is now known as Priest’s Grotto, the families created refuge in an unbelievably hostile environment. They were lead by family matriarch Esther Stermer, whose fierce resolve kept the underground community in tact. The heroes were teenage boys and young men in their 20s who put their lives on the line every time they had to venture out to chop firewood and collect food and essential supplies. What they accomplished is remarkable, in a region where less than 5% of the Jews survived, the 38 who went in to Priest’s Grotto in May, 1943, came out alive in April 1944 as the Russians liberated the area. In 2010, four of those young heroes, now in their 70s, 80s, and 90s journeyed back to Ukraine with their grandchildren, to enter the cave for the first time in 66 years.
Returning to the Ukraine are:
· Saul Stermer, now 92. Saul was in his early 20s during the war. The middle Stermer brother, he was the young engineering brains in the cave. To this day, he still goes to work at his successful construction company.
· Sam Stermer, Saul’s younger brother, now 85, was a teenager in the cave. He was the cave lookout for his two older brothers, helping them in any way he could.
· The Stermer brother’s nieces Sonia and Sima, now 78 and 73. Sonia and Sima were small girls in the cave. They never once left Priest’s Grotto cave during their survival odyssey, remaining for 344 uninterrupted days underground in what is the longest sustained underground survival recorded by any group.
· Chris Nicola, the cave explorer and investigator who unearthed the story, is their guide on this incredible journey.
This remarkable story is told through a visual combination of adventure cave exploration, dramatic re-enactments, and verite. It’s not only one of the most spectacular untold stories of its time; it’s an adventure story of amazing triumph in the face of most unbelievable odds for any time.
World War II Cave Survivors Recall Ordeal
About No Place On Earth:
NO PLACE ON EARTH is produced by HISTORY’s film arm HISTORY FILMS in collaboration with Sierra/Tango Productions. The film is directed by Janet Tobias – Emmy award winning director/producer (CBS 60 Minutes, ABC Primetime Live, NBC Dateline, ABC Nightline, PBS Frontline, PBS Life 360). Cinematographers are Cesar Charlone (City of God, Constant Gardener, Blindness), Edu Grau (A Single Man, Buried, Arthur Newman) and Peter Simonite (Friday Night Lights and Tree of Life). Editors are Deidre Slevin (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Gaudi Afternoon) and Claus Wehlisch (Cloud Atlas, The Three Musketeers). Producers are Janet Tobias, Rafael Marmor (Blue Blood), Paul Laikin and Susan Barnett. Executive Producers for HISTORY are Susan Werbe, Molly Thompson and David McKillop.
About HISTORY Films
HISTORY Films(R) is the feature documentary production arm of HISTORY(R) and seeks to bring cinematic stories by outstanding independent filmmakers to the widest possible audience. HISTORY Films seeks dramatic non-fiction films about extraordinary people and those singular moments in our past, present and future that stand out forever, demonstrating that History is Made Every Day. The HISTORY Films roster includes to date: The Emmy(R) nominated PAGE ONE (2011) (Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media); Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood’s MAGIC TRIP (2011) (with The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures); COUNTDOWN TO ZERO (2010) (with Magnolia and Participant); and CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (2010) (produced with Creative Differences and C4). Visit HISTORY at www.history.com.
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