After becoming the target of a neo-Nazi “troll storm” and receiving thousands of death threats against her, a Jewish American woman reaches into the past to overcome her present trauma.
Tanya Gersh's peaceful life was upturned when she became the target of a neo-Nazi website that threatened to lead an armed march to run her out of her home in Whitefish, Montana. Almost 80 years ago, Stephen Jacobs and his family were forced to leave their home in Lodz, Poland when the Nazi persecution of Jewish people across Europe began. Tanya reaches into past to understand her present trauma, and connects with Stephen’s resistance against hate. Set in different time and place, the intersection of their stories reveals the parallels in the lexicon and methodology of anti-Semitism in contemporary America and the Nazi Germany. By setting Tanya’s personal story on a larger canvas of our human history, “Then They Came For Us” puts into perspective the clear and present danger of white supremacy and its return to the mainstream in America.
The team behind the making of this film comprises of BIPOC filmmakers. Collectively, we have inherited a long history of oppression and discrimination. We feel Tanya’s pain, and know how easy it is for an innocent citizen like her to be victimized for simply being who she is because white supremacy continues to corrupt our society with hate. As artists, we believe the only way to change the narrative of hate is by telling our stories. And we begin by telling the story of this courageous Jewish mother’s fight back against the all-powerful white supremacists. We hope her story will inspire others to resist the hate because the right to human dignity and equality is as fundamental to life as the air we breathe. The film title is inspired by Martin Niemöller’s "First They Came", which epitomes why we should always speak up against evil and do the right thing.
So when SPLC said, 'Tanya, we're going to ask you to fight a neo-Nazi, and it's going to be scary. You are going to be targeted again...are you still willing to say yes?' And I said, count me in. This is bigger than me. If this happens to one more person in our country, I'm not sure I'd be able to live with myself. So I decided to fight."
- Tanya Gersh
“Perhaps a better word than fight would be to resist, and to realize that we are not alone. That an attack on any minority or any group of people, for who they are, what they believe, how they want to identify themselves - is an attack on all of us. What's happening to Asian Americans today, to victims of homophobia and Islamophobia, are part of the same thing that require us to stand up and oppose it, with the same strength as if it was targeted against us personally.”
- Stephen Jacobs
Director Eunice Lau
As a descendant of immigrants displaced by conflict, Eunice Lau is drawn to stories about the journey of the immigrant and the profundity of hyphenated identities. It’s this inheritance that makes her cognizant of injustice, and her storytelling personal. Her documentary Accept the Call, set in Minnesota’s Somali community explores the impact of injustice and intergenerational trauma. It aired on PBS Independent Lens after screening at acclaimed festivals such as Human Rights Watch and Woodstock. A former journalist, Eunice’s works have appeared on Discovery Channel and Al Jazeera English. Her work is supported by Jerome Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, Woodstock Film Festival, ITVS, Chicken & Egg Pictures, North Point Institute, and YouTube Impact Lab. She is featured in publications including New York Times, Variety, and Filmmaker Magazine. A Masters of Fine Arts film graduate from NYU, Eunice is born and raised in Singapore and lives in Queens on Lenape land.
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