A White Horse For Batavia
Based on the true story of Beno Sternlicht and his three year journeys as a young boy from Poland to India set amidst WWII. Escaping onset of war to Romania, labor camp in Siberia, hitchhiking via Ukraine to Turkey, bartering diamond hidden inside egg for transit VISA to Batavia, jailed in Palestine, hiding on boat full of sheep and goats, arriving in Bombay where he calls home and meets Gandhi while playing chess.
Read the Director's Statement
A White Horse for Batavia is a feature narrative film based on the true story of Beno Sternlicht born 1928 in Nowy Sacz, Poland. The film opens in 1939, Warsaw on the days before the onset of the Nazi attack. We follow Beno, an eleven-year Jewish boy in his adventures escaping over the course of three-years on the run to find safety in India. His journey is an internal/external coming of age tale that explores identity, displacement, interconnectivity, and tolerance.
Beno’s migrations as a child refugee lead him far from a mother and country that once defined him. He is forced to grow up transiently while separated from mother, a sought after doctor, and father conscripted to the army. Later a stroke of luck in Romania reunites Beno to his father Hugo. We come to understand the rapidly changing world through the eyes of a young boy who learns to survive the myriad hurdles and hazards while traversing foreign lands escaping evil, alienation, hatred, and disease. At times of most intensive melee, Beno finds solace in his mother’s spirit revealed through a golem-like figure introduced from early childhood and expressed by means of magical realism.
Father and son embark on a series of adventure as we follow them through Siberia, Turkey, Palestine, Iraq, Iran and eventually India a crossroads of civilizations, peoples and cultures with a five thousand year history of tolerance and sense of interconnectivity.
Towards the end of the film, Beno gazes out to sea from the shores of Bombay to a corpse of a boy like him who lies on a beach in Greece. Here we meet Adnan from Syria, a contemporary refugee child reflecting from his after-life on a failed journey to find a home in Germany.
Challenges, luck, hatred, disease, misfortunes and much more test their abilities to survive and question the people and places around them. As father and son migrate from Europe via the Middle East to India the transformation of people, cultures and environments creates a cinematic voyage of the senses. Beno learns how to innovate, adapt, transform knowledge and apply in practical ways. The film infuses personal storytelling, drama, dark comedy, fast action and flawed characters that learn and change as does the transformative world around them.
Beno comes to realize there will always be people that judge and hate him for being Jewish yet he must learn to accept this and take pride in his identity and culture. He initially hides’ being a Jew yet by the end of the film learns to celebrate who he is and where he comes from. His father, Hugo, reinforces this by teaching Beno that everything may be taken away except for honor and education.
This film asks questions without giving answers; it opens up mysteries rather then drawing conclusions or resolutions, and it relates to the contemporary refugee crises today. Viewers are left to muse on the value of tolerance and how humanity confronts increasingly globalized societies and migrating communities.
A White Horse For Batavia is a feature narrative film by Joshua Hugh Sternlicht.
Produced by Rooftop Content Group & Relative Pictures
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About Eyespot Films
Eyespot Films founded by Joshua Sternlicht is a turnkey concept to completion Production Company that brings together creative professionals, educators and business minds. Based in New York and Berlin operating around the globe we aim to produce the highest quality content that entertains, resonates, stimulates and ensure optimal control over content customized to clients needs. We create cinematic experiences that include documentary, short, feature, television, branded content, commercial, music video, and web design. Our projects enable a fresh discourse between commerce, content, interactivity, and art. We work alongside filmmakers, educators, schools, brands, networks, agencies, and designers to produce work that promotes balance between identity, mindset, outcomes, and socio-environmental goals.
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Joshua Sternlicht is an experienced IB Film, Photography, and Media Studies teacher as well as a certified film workshop presenter. He moderates and curates student film festivals and hosts film-related travel experiences. Joshua earned a BA in Film Studies from Columbia University and an MA in Art Education from NYU. He has over ten years experience teaching in international schools, public school, private schools, after-school programs, and museums. He remains focused to educate, to mentor, to support, to coordinate student film festivals, programs, internships and to work with youth further to empower themselves.