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MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR Film building bridge between understanding, healing


The following ran in the Sept. 18, 2012, edition of the White Rock Lake Weekly. Rick Halperin, director of SMU's Embrey Human Rights Program, provided expertise for this story.

September 20, 2012

By Lucy Higginbotham

Travel journalism has taken Lakewood author Lucy McCauley all over the world. But it was a trip to Germany that turned her into a filmmaker.

Her husband’s 8-month Fulbright grant in 2008 afforded McCauley the opportunity to spend plenty of time getting to know Germans and their country.

“I was impressed by the gravity of their history and curious about how they engaged the Holocaust,” she said. “I’m not Jewish, and I’m not German. But this is just a topic that really resonated [within] me.”

As she got to know the residents of Tuebingen, a university town in the south, she’d broach the subject, but many were reluctant to talk. Eventually people started opening up to her and agreed to be interviewed. Some were very emotional, even tearful when they recalled their experiences.

Normally a writer for a variety of publications, McCauley originally planned to write an essay about what she was learning. However, the project took on a much larger life as McCauley progressed. As time passed, she thought, “I’ve got to get these people on film.”

Her close friend came to mind because she is Jewish.

“I invited her to come visit us in Germany, but her response was visceral. She just couldn’t,” she said.

“So I began thinking in terms of creating more understanding between Germans and a North American Jewish audience.”

But there was just one problem. She had never made a movie before....

McCauley also credits Director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program Rick Halperin for his key contributions.

As past Chair of the Board of Directors for Amnesty International, U.S.A, Halperin has long been passionate about human rights. He now uses her film in three of his courses. “Many Americans may shrug at the Holocaust because it was a long time ago and [they] think we should just ‘move on,’” he explained. “But many Germans and Europeans haven’t and can’t.” Halperin added that the lessons from World War II are relevant today, as atrocities continue even as you read this story.

“This film strikes at the central nerve of the relationship between human beings and bad behavior. I mean, what’s our problem? How much more does the world have to learn before we stop doing this to each other?” he said in exasperation....