I’m a longtime indie film activist — founding director of the Independent Film Project, co-founder of First Run Features, former ITVS board member — and also a veteran film producer and public television executive. My career has been devoted to financing and distributing work created in the margins of the mainstream media, because I believe that artistically- and politically-driven films are essential to our democracy.
My New Day film, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today [The Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration], is one of history’s greatest courtroom dramas. It shows how international prosecutors built their case against top Nazi leaders, using their own films and records. The trial, lasting from 1945 to 1946, established the “Nuremberg Principles” — the foundation for all subsequent trials for crimes against the peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity — and led directly to creation of the International Criminal Court.
The original version of Nuremberg was completed in 1948 by my father, Stuart Schulberg. That same year, it was suppressed by the US government for political reasons. They finally released a dupe negative and a few prints in the 1970s, and Josh Waletzky and I restored it. It was released theatrically in the US for the first time at the New York Film Festival and at Film Forum cinema in 2010.
We didn’t change a frame of the original picture; our challenge was to reconstruct the sound and music tracks. We had Liev Schreiber record my father’s original narration and went back to the original sound recorded at the trial. In the process, we learned just how little footage had been shot in the Nuremberg courtroom, and that my father and his editor, Joe Zigman, had had to construct certain key turning points in the trial using footage that might have been shot on a different day. It was eerie and wonderful to follow in their footsteps and bring the film back to life for modern audiences.
Nuremberg has been translated into 12 languages and is slowly making its way around the globe. Sometimes the responses have been jaw-dropping. One Bahraini judge told me, “Until I saw this film, I idolized Hitler as a great leader of his people. Everyone has to see this film.”
You really don’t know what turns your life with take. I never had the faintest notion that I would become something of an expert on the use of film at the Nuremberg trial, let alone get the chance to work alongside some of the top judges and prosecutors in the world today. It has been a great privilege to “inherit” the legacy of Nuremberg, just as it has been a great privilege to be invited to join the historic filmmakers cooperative New Day Films at my late age.
Learn more about Sandra’s work here.