Published: October 12, 2009
Tom Garrett, director, producer and UT assistant film professor, is
pulled to making movies about overcoming adversity. His newest project,
premiering Oct. 12 in Paris and in January 2010 at the Film Society of
Lincoln Center in New York City, follows suit.
A documentary on
the life of Leon Blum, the film details the life of France’s first
Jewish prime minister who started as a literary critic. He
was imprisoned in Buchenwald from 1943 to 1945 on the claim of treason
only to return later to regain his power as prime minister.
many people in the U.S. know who Leon Blum is. Things like social
security he started in France, and we fashioned our system after it,”
Garrett said. “He was a frontiersman for change.”
realize it at first, but looking at the storyline of his three most
recent projects – a high school band director with Tourette syndrome, an
Olympic swimmer who is arrested by Adolph Hitler as Jew and sent to
Auschwitz concentration camp and the story of Leon Blum – all speak to
the strength of the human spirit.
“I think there is a triumph
over adversity theme,” Garrett said after recollection, even noting that
the book he is co-authoring on Academy Award-winning director John
Avildsen details Avildsen’s films, like “Rocky” and “Lean on Me,” many
of which carry the same theme.
While subliminal, Garrett’s pull
to do these kinds of feature films and documentaries is to get the
audience thinking as well as collaborate with long-time friends and
colleagues. Garrett produced “Leon Blum” with Jean Bodon, a professor in
the department of communication studies at The University of Alabama.
Bodon was Garrett’s first film professor, turned colleague, who didn’t
discover that his family had Jewish roots until he was in his 50s.
is fascinating about Tom is his passion for movies. He is extremely
energetic which generally makes a project happen,” said Bodon, who hopes
people walk away from “Leon Blum” with an appreciation for socialism.
“I want people to realize that the ideas of Leon Blum still have
validity. His motives for socialism were love and equality.”
documentary, which includes interviews with French historian Jean
Lacouture, two former prime ministers, Pierre Mauroy and Laurent Fabius,
and Blum’s grandson Antoine Malamoud, will premiere in Paris on Oct.
12, 2009 at the Museum of Jewish Art and History.