“20 Million Minutes” debuts in Rockland County on Saturday evening, a fitting location for the documentary about the worldwide campaign that sought a Minute of Silence at the 2012 London Olympics for the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches murdered by Palestinian terrorists 40 years earlier at the Munich games. The Rockland JCC partnered with the widows and families of the slain athletes and coaches in 2010 to dedicate the 2012 Maccabi Games in their memory and organize an effort to have them remembered with a Minute of Silence at the London Olympics. Despite international support, a and more than 10,000 articles documenting the effort, the president of the International Olympics Committee refused the request.
20 Million Minutes traces what happened in 1972 through 2010 when the Rockland JCC began its collaboration with the Munich 11 families. Writer, Director and Producer Joe Allen said he felt compelled to do something so the tragedy and the effort to honor those who lost their lives were not forgotten.
“It started to occur to me that this is a remarkable story that has not been told sufficiently to people,” said Allen. “ It’s one of those things that has a real potential of slipping back into history and coming back out when social studies teachers decide to bring it up.”
His employer Active International of Pearl River got involved in the JCC’s sponsorship of the 2012 Maccabi Games and as a supporter of “Change 4 Change,” which supported feeding programs in Rockland and Israel. The company’s role evolved to funding the documentary. Active International Co-founders Alan Elkin and President Arthur Wagner are executive producers of the film, which includes historical footage, b-roll and 45 interviews with 55 people from Munich family members in Israel, American and Israeli government officials to the JCC community.
The film’s title comes from the time that elapsed between when the Munich 11 died and the JCC got involved. Its tagline reads: “There have been 20 million minutes since the tragedy in Munich and all we’re asking for is one.”
The Tomkins Cove resident said the push for the Minute of Silence continues.
“We believe that Rio in 2006 will be the moment,” he said, adding that he hopes it brings the closure and recognition the families have been seeking.
The film debuts this Saturday, March 16 at 8:30 p.m. at Rockland Community College with Ankie Spitzer, widow of Israeli Fencing Coach Andre Spitzer, as a featured speaker. Go online to see a trailer of the film and order tickets which cost $18 for the film screening and a dessert reception. The film is being donated to the JCC, which plans to share with JCCs and faith based organizations worldwide and develop an educational guide for schools. Allen hopes to reach an even wider audience by entering it in film festivals and competitions.