The Last Spy of The First Hour receives a grant from Jewish Story Partners

Jewish Story Partners (JSP), a Los Angeles-based nonprofit film funding organization, announced on Thursday that among its new grantees, $450,000 will be distributed between 18 documentary films that focus on the Holocaust or antisemitism.

JSP also announced the creation of its Holocaust Film Fund and the Antisemitism and the Ecosystem of Hate Film Fund.

“In light of the rise of antisemitism, particularly in the aftermath of Oct. 7, and in response to the persistence of Holocaust denial and the myriad Holocaust stories yet to be told, JSP renews our faith in film as an indispensable tool to build empathy and fight against ignorance and hate,” the organization said in a press release.

JSP Co-executive directors Caroline Libresco and Roberta Grossman added: “At a time when nuance is sorely needed in public discourse, we’re proud to support films that elucidate complex realities and reflect a range of Jewish stories, perspectives, and experiences.”

One documentary that will receive a grant as part of the new round of film funding from JSP is titled The Last Man of the First Hour, from director Katharina Otto-Bernstein and producers Oleg Dubson and Sabine Schenk. It tells the story of 100-year-old CIA spy Peter Sichel, who escaped Nazi Germany as a Jewish refugee and became the first CIA station chief in post-war Berlin as well as an undercover operative during the Cold War.

Another film — titled We’ve Been Here Before: What the Punk Scene Can Teach Us About White Supremacy “gets up close and personal with self-proclaimed misfits and nonconformists of punk subculture as they fight against white nationalists and neo-Nazis.” Jacob Kornbluth directed the documentary and co-produced the film with Francine Hermelin Levite.

A third JSP grantee is Wednesdays in Mississippi, which is a documentary about Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women, and Jewish volunteer Polly Cowan, who together gathered a group of women activists from different races and faiths who wanted to build bridges across race, religion, and class during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the 1960s.

The jury that selected the 18 films receiving the grant said in a released statement that “the formally and thematically far-ranging documentaries we selected refuse to give in to reductionism or stereotypes, refuse to ignore tough questions.”

“Instead, they reveal a multiplicity of untold, unexpected global Jewish stories, both microscopic and sprawling across generations,” they added. “In a time of fractured truth and connection, these excellent projects expand our collective memory and our sense of shared humanity.”

JSP launched in April 2021 with support from Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation and Maimonides Fund. Over the years, the film funding organization has awarded approximately $2.5 million in grants to 85 independent projects that tell the Jewish story.

JSP is also launching a new Education-Impact Program, in which it will annually provide more than 600 free screenings of three JSP-funded documentaries at nonprofits, schools, and religious institutions. The inaugural cohort of the Education-Impact grants is Ondi Timoner’s Last Flight Home, Tessa Louise Salomé’s The Wild One, and Iris Zaki’s Egypt, A Love Song.