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 real story of Beno Sternlicht. The film is set at beginning of WWII and follows Beno, a young boy and his adventures as a refugee escaping Poland and ending up in India over three-years on the run. The latter part of the film intersects and relates Beno’s story with a contemporary refugee boy, Adnan, from Syria and his journeys to Germany. Themes include displacement, interconnectivity, tolerance and human behavior.
A White Horse For Batavia asks more questions then giving answers, it opens mysteries rather then draws conclusions or resolutions. The film is told exclusively from the perspective of a boy and how he interprets, observes, and challenges the rapidly changing world all the while learning to find his own place within it.
The film opens just before the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland when Beno is eleven and separated from his mother, Dr.Helena who works at a hospital in Warsaw. During Beno’s voyage home to Nowy-Sacz, the Polish army conscripts his father. We follow Beno in hiding and his search for his father Hugo. A missing person sign on a tree in Romania leads to their reunion. Together, they embark on adventures to Siberia, Turkey, Palestine and eventually India where they settle and build a new life.
Along their voyages, strokes of luck and misfortune test their abilities to survive and question the world around them. As father and son journey from Europe via the Middle East to Asia the transformation of people, cultures and environments create a cinematic tour-de-force of the senses. Beno learns lessons from his father and those around him how to innovate, adapt and transform practical knowledge into useful applications benefitting other. Infusing action/drama, inexorable challenges, and compelling characters Beno confronts the changing worlds as a boy comes of age on the inside and outside of himself.
Towards the latter half of the film magical realism brings Beno to notice a reflection of a boy in the mirror and the film transitions to Syria following Adnan’s journey to Germany. Adnan’s journey bare parallels to Beno’s yet he faces greater obstacles and false hopes in a globalized Germany. The film returns to Beno’s story and ends in India, a crossroads of civilizations, peoples and cultures with over five thousand year history. Viewers are left to muse on the value of tolerance in braving an increasingly globalized future.
Written & Realized By
Joshua Hugh Sternlicht
A Film by Joshua Sternlicht
Produced by Rooftop Content Group & Relative Pictures
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About Eyespot Films
Eyespot Films creates cinematic experiences including documentaries, shorts, and features, branded content, commercials, music videos and web design. We work alongside filmmakers, educators, schools, brands, networks, and agencies to produce work that ensures a balance between identity, mindset and socio-environmental goals.
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Joshua Sternlicht began teaching film while working in South Africa in 2007 on feature documentary film Fool in a Bubble. He was inspired to help disaffected youth learn the tools and methods to express themselves, their stories, histories and empower them through the medium of filmmaking.