Cincinnati gets ‘sneak peek’ at Jewish history documentary ahead of world debut

Cincinnatians are getting a special sneak peek at a new documentary focused on the journey of E. Randol “Randy” Schoenberg and his reluctant teenage son across Europe and 500 years of Jewish and family history.

Schoenberg and filmmaker Matthew Mishory begin the festival journey for “Fioretta” in the Queen City with an unofficial world premiere on Thursday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., at the Mariemont Theatre. The screening is made possible through the support of The Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center and the local film organization, Cindependent.

A still image from “Fioretta”

The roughly two-hour picture depicts the travels and exploits of Schoenberg – grandson of composer Arnold Schoenberg – and his son, Joey, 18, through parts of Austria, Czech Republic and Italy. The father-son relationship is “forever changed” as they encounter “kings, mystics and a false messiah — as well as numerous ordinary and extraordinary people who witnessed Europe’s tumultuous past,” according to the film’s description.

The story examines how so-called ordinary people had their lives turned upside down by major events in Europe’s distant and recent past: the expulsions, the Holocaust, Communism, and, most recently, the refugee crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Fans of the silver screen may recall Schoenberg’s name from his depiction in “Woman in Gold.” It tells the story of his legal work to help former Austrian American and Jewish refugee Maria Altmann reclaim five family-owned Gustav Klimt paintings from the country of Austria that were stolen from her family during World War II.

To celebrate the release of the film, Schoenberg is giving a talk today – Wednesday, Sept. 27, 5:30 p.m. – at the Cincinnati Museum Center on the recovery of the Klimt paintings. It’s hosted in conjunction with the Holocaust and Humanity Center and Chase Law School at Northern Kentucky University.

HHC opening gala
Holocaust survivor families walk from the Amtrak station in Union Terminal to the ribbon-cutting in the rotunda.

The sneak preview of “Fioretta” is taking place the following night, just two days before the official world premiere at the Woodstock (New York) Film Festival. The international premiere is Oct. 5 in Zurich, Switzerland, and an Israeli premiere is on Oct. 8 at the ANU – Museum of the Jewish People.

Tickets for both events are reportedly, at best, scarce.