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“Unusual in Every Way” to cap off upcoming International Jewish Film Festival

l-r: Orly Dreman, Don Barnard,
and Solly Dreman in a scene
from “Unusual in Every Way”

Review By BERNIE BELLAN In January of this year Myron Love wrote about a new film that has been produced by local filmmaker Yolanda Papini-Pollock, titled “Unusual in Every Way”.
As Myron noted in that article, the film tells “the story of the unlikely friendship between Don Barnard, an individual of Indigenous background living with disabilities and post traumatic stress, and Solly Dreman, a former Winnipegger who made aliyah almost 60 years ago and is a retired Ben Gurion University Professor of Psychology.”

Yolanda montage“Unusual in Every Way” will be the final film shown at the upcoming International Jewish Film Festival, on Sunday May 29, at 2:00 pm, in the Berney Theatre. (As with all the films to be shown this year, viewers will have the choice of attending in person or streaming the films on a computer or mobile device.)
I had the opportunity to view the film in advance. Although I have seen other of Yolanda’s films, I told her in an email that I was more than impressed with her latest production, as it marked a new sophistication in her documentary story telling style.
Through fast cutting, clever and imaginative graphics, some outstanding historical footage interspersed throughout the film, and some very insightful interviews with a range of subjects, “Unusual in Every Way” both tells the story of Don Barnard’s personal struggles and how his own story parallels the Jewish story of survival.
Although Don has an exceedingly high IQ (of 163), he has struggled with various challenges throughout his life, as the film makes exceedingly – and quite painfully, clear. He has been diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder he reveals in the film, and his father was a violent alcoholic. (Don’s father actually appears in the film, and in one scene that can be difficult to watch, Don tells him about the often violent, alcohol-fuelled outbursts Don was forced to endure as a child. His father though, admits he has no recollection at all of any of those incidents.)
As Myron also notes in his story about the film, Yolanda first met Don when they worked together on a documentary about different genocides that have occurred in recent history. (Don is an accomplished videographer in his own right.)
Later, Yolanda introduced Don to Solly and Orly Dreman in 2016 when they were in Winnipeg for a visit. (Solly had asked Yolanda whether she knew anyone who could video a lecture Solly was going to be giving, along with a family reunion he was planning on having.)
Again, as Myron notes in his story, the “Dremans and Barnard hit it off and the Israeli couple invited him to come to Israel at their expense. It happens that among Solly Dreman’s post-retirement activities has been helping youth with severe learning disorders.
“In 2020, thanks to the Dremans’ generosity, Barnard was able to realize his long-time dream of visiting Israel. He stayed with his hosts in Jerusalem for a week and toured the country with Orly’s son, Oren Cytto, as his tour guide.
“Solly Dreman also bought his Canadian guest a professional level video camera.”
Scenes from that visit form a good part of this film. Yet, not only did Solly and Orly open up their home to Don, they also introduced him to many of their friends, many of whom had also suffered their own personal traumas, having survived the Holocaust.
As Don learns more about Israel and the experiences of many of the individuals he encounters there, he begins to become aware just how similar the Jewish and Indigenous experience is in so many respects.
After viewing the film, I was curious about many aspects of how it was put together, so I asked Yolanda some questions about how the film was produced.
I asked her, for instance, when the scenes in Israel were actually filmed – and who did the filming there?
She answered: “Most of the filming was done by Don. He was there twice (2017 and 2020) and some was done by Omer Armoni.
I told Yolanda that I was very impressed with the historical footage she assembled. For instance, there are some fascinating scenes of Native children in residential schools, also of Holocaust survivors arriving in Israel. The parallels that Yolanda draws are quite insightful, I told her.
I also said to Yolanda that this particular film “seems to be by far your most ambitious project to date. Would you agree? The amount of editing it would have required would have been enormous.”
She responded: “Thank you. I did work hard on it and it is my favorite so far because the topic is close to my heart on many levels.”
And yet, while “Unusual in Every Way” seems to be pointing to a fairly happy ending, what with Don Barnard finding so much acceptance within Solly and Orly’s family, again, as Myron notes in his story, “Papini Pollock reports that overcoming trauma is not a simple process and Barnard’s personal recovery may take a long time. Despite being inspired by the stories he heard in Israel, his personal journey to healing is a roller coaster. As he says near the end of the documentary, he has his good days and his bad days – and he never knows when his disabilities will cause him to have a meltdown.”
Yet, despite Don Barnard’s struggles, which are often laid bare for all to see during the course of this film, Yolanda told me that “Don is much better. In fact, I really see a new drive in him and he is stronger than ever. I hope this continues.”
Thus, the hope engendered by the warm relationship that the film depicts between Solly and Orly Dreman on the one hand, and Don Barnard, on the other, does seem to have imbued Don Barnard with a newfound vitality, despite the bleak shadow often cast over him. In that sense, this film can serve as an inspiration for anyone who has had to deal with similar challenges that can often seem quite overpowering.

“Unusual in Every Way”

Sunday, May 29 2:00 pm
Documentary | 2021 | Canada | Directors: Don Barnard and Yolanda Papini-Pollock| English | 63 min.

 

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Winnipeg-born Elliot Lazar to star as Paul Simon in “The Simon & Garfunkel Story” at Centennial Concert Hall

By BERNIE BELLAN Elliot Lazar’s career has long been chronicled in the pages of The Jewish Post & News. Do a search for his name in our “Search Archives” button and you will find a multitude of stories about Elliot from the time he was five years old.
A talented singer, musician, and musical arranger, also a graduate of Gray Academy, the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music, and the Boston Conservatory, Elliot has appeared many times in Winnipeg, including most recently last summer in Rainbow Stage’s production of “Rent.”
He’s been constantly busy – as a review of some of his past acting credits reveals. Last season alone, in addition to his performing in “Rent,” Elliot also appeared in the National Tour of “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “The Band’s Visit” (Huntington/Speakeasy Stage).
We’re excited to announce that Elliot will be appearing in Winnipeg for one night only, May 21, starring as Paul Simon in “The Simon & Garfunkel Story.”

Here’s Elliot’s own story about his growing up in Winnipeg:
“I grew up in Garden City, attended Gray Academy (K-12) and majored in vocal performance at the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music. I lived in Winnipeg until I was 22, so I’m pretty connected with the arts scene there still. The venue we’re playing, the Centennial Concert Hall, I was last seen in Guys and Dolls in concert with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Rainbow Stage (2019), and before that I sang with the Manitoba Opera Chorus in 3 productions there. My last performance in Winnipeg was in Rent with Rainbow Stage this past summer. Other local performing arts companies I have a history with there are Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, Winnipeg Studio Theatre, Dry Cold Productions, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Manitoba Underground Opera, Little Opera Company, and the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. I grew up going to see shows at the Concert Hall, so it’s a wonderful full circle moment for me.”

Elliot Lazar (second from left bottom row) as Paul Simon

About “The Simon & Garfunkel Story”:
Nostalgia-inducing unforgettable hits! The internationally-acclaimed hit theater show The Simon & Garfunkel Story (www.thesimonandgarfunkelstory.com) returns to the road in 2024 with a North American tour to more than 25 cities. Kicking off in Richmond, Kentucky on January 28, 2024, the immersive concert-style tribute show will recreate the magic and authenticity of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel on stage and chronicles the amazing journey shared by the iconic, GRAMMY-award winning folk-rock duo. It tells the story from their humble beginnings as Tom & Jerry, to their incredible success as one of the best-selling music groups of the ‘60s, and to their dramatic split in 1970. The Simon & Garfunkel Story culminates with the pair’s famous “The Concert in Central Park” reunion in 1981 which had more than half a million fans in attendance. Tickets are on sale now.
 
The show features a set list of nearly 30 songs and uses state-of-the-art video projection, photos and original film footage. A full live band will perform all of the hits including “Mrs. Robinson,” “Cecilia,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Homeward Bound” and many more complete with the unmistakably perfect harmonies that will transport audiences down memory lane.
 
With more than 100 million album sales since 1965, Simon & Garfunkel’s unforgettable songs and poetic lyrics poignantly captured the times made them one of the most successful folk-rock duos of all time. Over the years, they won 10 GRAMMY Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1977, the Brit Awards honored their “Bridge Over Troubled Water” album with Best International Album. In 2003, Simon & Garfunkel were awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the following year saw their “The Sound of Silence” awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
 

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Local News

Ida and the late Saul Alpern have donated 2 ambulances and a scooter to Magen David Adom in past 4 years

Saul z"l and Ida Alpern

By BERNIE BELLAN Saul Alpern passed away in 2022, but before he died he and his wife Ida had decided to make Magen David Adom a major recipient of their generosity.

As Myron Love noted in an October 2020 article the Alperns had been contributing small amounts to the Canadian Magen David Adom for some time, but it was in that year they decided to donate $160,000 for the purchase of a Mobile Intensive Care Unit for Israel’s Magen David Adom.

As Myron wrote in that 2020 article, an MICUA (which is larger than an ambulance, is staffed by paramedics, and responds only to the most medically serious cases) was donated “to the people of Israel in memory of Saul Alpern’s parents and siblings who perished in the Holocaust.

“It is an expression of my love for my family and my love of Israel,” Saul Alpern said at the time.

In early 2022 the Alperns donated yet another $170,000 for the purchase of a second MICU for Magen David Adom.

The scooter recently donated by Ida Alpern in memory of her late husband and parents/plaque imprinted on the front of the scooter carrier box

Saul Alpern passed away in November 2022, but Ida Alpern has now continued the legacy of giving to Canadian Magen David Adom that she and Saul had begun several years before. Just recently Ida contributed $39,000 toward the purchase of an emergency medical scooter. According to the CMDA website, “the scooter, which is driven by a paramedic, can get through traffic faster than the Standard Ambulance or MICU and provide pre-hospital care. It contains life-saving equipment, including a defibrillator, an oxygen tank, and other essential medical equipment.”

I asked Ida whether she wanted to say anything about the motivation for her and her late husband’s support for CMDA. She wrote, “Having survived the Holocaust, and being a Zionist, Saul felt that supporting Israel was of the utmost importance.”

On May 7, CMDA will be honouring Ida and Saul z”l Alpern at a dinner and show at the Centro Caboto Centre. Another highlight that evening will be the announcement of the purchase of an ambulance for CMDA by another Winnipegger, Ruth Ann Borenstein. That ambulance will be in honour of Ruth’s late parents, Gertrude and Harry Mitchell. The evening will also commemorate the late Yoram East (aka Hamizrachi), who was a well-known figure both in Israel and here in Winnipeg.

For more information about the May 7 event go to https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/canadian-magen-david-adom-for-israel/events/cmda-winnipeg-an-evening-of-appreciation/ or to purchase tickets phone 587-435-5808 or email sfraiman@cmdai.org

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Local News

Simkin Centre looking for volunteers

A scene from last year's Simkin Stroll

We received the following email from Heather Blackman, Simkin Centre Director of Volunteers & Resident Experience:

Happy Spring Everyone! Hope you all are well. We have a number of upcoming volunteer opportunities that I wanted to share with you. Please take a look at what we have listed here and let me know if you are available for any of the following. I can be reached at heather.blackman@simkincentre.ca or 204-589-9008.
Save the date! The Simkin Stroll is on June 25th this year and we need tons of volunteers to assist. This is our annual fundraiser and there is something for everyone to help with from walking with Residents in the Stroll to manning booths and tables, event set up and take down and much more. Volunteers will be needed from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on this day. Come and help for the full event or for any period within that timeframe that works for you.
Resident Store – This tuck shop style cart will be up for business shortly. Residents will be assisting to stock and run the store for 2 hours 2- 3 times per week in the afternoons. Volunteer support is needed to assist residents with restocking items and monetary transactions.
Passover Volunteers
Volunteers are needed to assist with plating Seder plates for Residents (date to be determined for plating)
Volunteers are needed to assist Residents to and from Passover Services and Come and Go Teas.
Times volunteers are needed for services/teas:
April 22cnd – First Seder 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 23rd – Passover Service Day 1 – 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 23rd – Second Seder – 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 24th – Passover Service – Day 2 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 29th – Passover Service – 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 29th- Passover Tea – 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 30th – Passover Service – 9:30 -11:30 a.m.
April 30th – Passover Tea – 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Admin/Paperwork Volunteers – Volunteers are needed to assist with filing and other administrative duties. A monthly volunteering job is also available to input information on programming into Recreation activity calendars. Support would be provided for this.
Adult Day Program – A volunteer is needed to assist with the Mondays Adult Day Program Group. A regular ongoing weekly commitment on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Assist with Recreation programming and lunch supervision for our Adult Day Program participants that come in from the community for the day.
Biking Volunteers – Take our residents out for a spin on one of our specialty mobility bicycles. Training is provided and volunteers will be needed throughout the Spring, Summer and early Fall.

With summer coming there is also opportunity to assist with outings and other outdoor programming! Please let me know if you are interested!

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