“Forgotten Jewels,” a documentary about the World War II refugees who fled to Havana, Cuba and created a diamond trade there as a means to survive, has won a grant that will help it reach a broader audience.

New York--A film that delves into the history of the diamond industry in Cuba has been awarded a grant that will allow it a broader reach.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has given “Forgotten Jewels, A Haven in Havana,” its inaugural JDC Archives Documentary Film Grant.

The grant awards $10,000 toward post-production and/or distribution costs of a documentary that utilizes JDC’s archival collections for a film focusing on 20th century Jewish history.

Directed by Judy Kreith and Robin Truesdale, “Forgotten Jewels” is a 46-minute documentary telling the story of Jewish refugees who fled Nazi-occupied Europe for Cuba, ultimately creating a diamond polishing industry in Havana that helped thousands of Cubans and refugees to survive during World War II.

The story has a personal connection for one of the directors--Kreith’s mother was a Jewish refugee in Cuba and even appears in the film.



“Since I was a child, my mother has told me stories of her almost miraculous escape from Nazi-occupied Europe to the island of Cuba. I felt that stories of Jewish refugees who escaped to Cuba should be documented for the future,” Krieth said. “Her experience and those of other refugees who polished diamonds in Havana as a means of economic survival is a little-known but essential part of Jewish history.”

There already have been a number of screenings of the film across the United States, including at private events and at film festivals.

Two more screenings are planned--one on June 21 at the Tolerance Education Center in Rancho Mirage, California, and that same day at Haifa Cinemateque in Haifa, Israel.

The directors still are aiming to get the film in front of a wider international audience. The winners of the grant plan to use it to fund additional screenings in a variety of locations and countries, including screenings for the diamond and jewelry industry for possible leveraging of the film as an educational resource.

They also will use the money for costs associated with international and Jewish film festivals and with other groups.

For more information, visit ForgottenJewelsFilm.com.

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