This was broadcast as a program for the World Association for Puppetry and Storytelling Arts
In 1930’s Poland the well-known and beloved Pediatrician and Child Psychologist Janusz Korczak had a popular radio program while simultaneously running orphanages for children. He was an author, educator and pedagogue who championed the Rights of the Child. He stayed with the orphans when the entire population of the institution was sent from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp by the Nazis, during the Grossaktion Warschau of 1942.
Flash forward to 2016, Nashville, TN. BriAnimations Living Entertainment adapts Korczak’s popular book Kaytek the Wizard into a successful, multimedia puppet show. Through sold-out live performances Korczak and his celebrated book are introduced to American audiences in a new, dynamic way, and his legacy as a children’s advocate can finally be shared to new generations. The show receives an award from the Korczak Society.
But it is only physically and logistically possible to perform a certain amount of shows per year, and audiences are limited by proximity to the theater performance. By adapting the live puppet show to the medium of film, and translating into Hebrew, Polish and other languages, it is our goal to share Kaytek The Wizard with schools, libraries, Community Centers, theaters and homes throughout the world. Through digital downloads, streaming platforms, DVDs and more we want to introduce new audiences to the profound wisdom and teachings of Janusz Korczak’s timeless story and bring memorable entertainment to elementary and middle school children seven to twelve years old. We plan to provide materials that will help educators explore the arts in their classrooms and provide tools for counselors to discuss tough issues children face. Acting as introductory biography of the great man himself, the world can learn more of the enduring work and ultimate sacrifice Korczak made, living and dying by the principles he stood for. By bringing Kaytek The Wizard to a film format, today’s children can build resilience, strong moral character, and empathy – and Janusz Korczak’s teachings will endure.
The film will be 60 minutes long and is told through the lens of a variety of realities. First, it is introduced and narrated by Janusz Korczak, who tells the story of Kaytek The Wizard to some of the children in his orphanage with puppets. The story then becomes a multimedia adaptation of the story, featuring puppets (one of Korczak’s favorite mediums), beautiful music, and thrilling animation that will captivate an audience of both children and adults. Korczak will act as the bridge between chapters and come in and out of the story to interact with his children and address important topics. Finally, the story ends with Korczak putting away the puppets and readying the children for their final journey – the train to Treblinka. This element is presented subtly to allow all children to retain the wonder of Kaytek The Wizard while introducing the important concepts of a history that must be taught and remembered.
· The film will be made available as digital downloads, DVD and will be shopped to distributors for other streaming options.
· The film will also be available for screenings, and attendance by the filmmakers an option.
· The music will be made available as digital downloads and as CD’s.
· Educational material for teachers will provide lesson plans to discuss artistic concepts and provide activities.
· Discussion plans will help Counselors examine some of the themes in Kaytek The Wizard including grief, bullying, and developing flexibility and strong moral ethics.
· Live performances of the puppet show can be booked through the website.
When the United Nations declared 1979 "The Year of the Child", it was also named "The Year of Janusz Korczak" to mark the centenary of his birth. His teachings were the foundation for the Convention on the Rights of the Child that was passed by the United Nations General Assembly in Geneva in 1989. Currently, 197 countries have signed the document and all except the United States have ratified it.
Our hope is to raise awareness of Korczak and his teachings in the US and have this issue addressed and ratified.
We are planning to initially have the film translated into five languages and then perhaps more, depending on the response.
Janusz Korczak (Henryk Goldszmit 1879-1942) was a pediatrician, educator, and writer who dedicated his life to orphaned children in Poland. Dr. Korczak is credited in Europe with the introduction of progressive orphanages designed as democratic republics; he founded the first national children’s newspaper, trained teachers in what we now call moral education, and worked in juvenile courts defending children’s rights. His books, How to Love a Child and The Child’s Right for Respect gave parents and teachers new insights into child psychology. His classics, King Matt the First and Kaytek the Wizard, enchanted children around the world. He stepped into legend when he refused offers to save his life. Together with 198 Jewish orphans under his care, Stephania Wilczynska, his assistant of 30 years, and 9 staff people, they entered cattle cars in the Warsaw Ghetto on August 5th, 1942, and left for the Treblinka death camp never to be heard from again. The Israelis revere Janusz Korczak as one of the Thirty-six Just Men whose pure souls, according to the ancient Jewish tradition, make the world’s salvation possible.
Emmy Award-winner Brian Hull is renowned for bringing compelling original ideas with arresting visual style to fruition. With over 40 years’ experience in entertainment, Brian Hull is known for implementing high standards of quality and creativity into literally hundreds of successful productions. Brian also has international experience and has visited and been inspired by the puppet markets of Europe.
In 1991 he created and performed "The Professor", which became a children's section for Opryland USA. In 2005 he became the writer/director for the Little Engine Playhouse at Dollywood Theme Park, adapting children's books to stage from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.
Brian has been the head of Wishing Chair Productions Puppet Theater at the Nashville Public Library for 23 years where he is also the Artistic Director of their International Puppet Festivals - and was a former board member and President of PUPPETEERS OF AMERICA.
Mary Tanner’s 38 year acting and puppeteering career includes 100+ professional roles on the stage and in film and television with companies in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Nashville. For the first 10 years of her career she landed regular roles in two national series for PBS and CBS as well as numerous roles across the‘80s film and television landscape. In the early 1990’s she returned to her native Nashville to be close to family and to create art in a more meaningful way. Participating in a great deal of theater as well as writing and producing various productions she eventually made her way to Wishing Chair Productions in 2004 to begin a new chapter of creativity with puppets! She was awarded the Individual Artist Fellowship Grant for acting from the Tennessee Arts Commission in 2005 and has continued to participate in Nashville theater, film and voice over work while maintaining full time puppeteering with Wishing Chair Productions and BriAnimations.
Sarah Hart is a Grammy nominated singer-songwriter. She has written songs for such artists as Celtic Women, Amy Grant, The Newsboys, Matt Maher and Audrey Assad. A writer of production and library music, and a recent Mark Award nominee for her writing, her songs have appeared in national films, television shows, and numerous commercials. She is also a composer and producer of musical scores for children’s animations, working with both Scholastic and Vooks. She writes extensively as well for the church, and her songs appear in hymnals and worship catalogs across the globe. As a solo recording artist, Sarah has released twelve full-length recordings. In non-Covid times, she travels extensively, giving concerts and keynoting at various events.
Sarah makes her home in Nolensville, TN with her husband and two teenage daughters.
Galen Fott has adapted, directed, and animated more than two dozen children’s books to video for Scholastic/Weston Woods and for Vooks. These films have screened at the Guggenheim, Sydney Opera House, National Gallery of Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Philharmonie de Paris, in the Hiroshima and Anima Mundi animation festivals, in the major children’s film festivals of New York and Chicago, and in the major international film festivals of Houston (ten-time Remi Award winner), San Francisco (three-time Golden Gate Award nominee), London, and Nashville. He has created animation for Sesame Workshop, Marvel Comics, Nashville Public Television, and Dollywood. Fott is also a writer, actor, singer, and puppeteer. www.bigfott.com
Billy Butler has been a music and theatre maker between NH and NYC for more than three decades. In 2019, he appeared as Cratchit/Marley in the world premiere of Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol at the Colonial Theatre in Boston and as Billy in ONCE the Musical at Speakeasy Stage. As an actor in New England he has worked with, Greater Boston Stage Company, NE Light Opera, Seacoast Repertory, The Players’ Ring, The Palace Theatre, and the Barnstormers. Off-Broadway: Crazy Head Space (Abraxas Stage), Stepchild (Interborough Rep) and as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (St. Clement’s Theatre). Other NYC credits: New York Musical Theatre Festival, Joe's Pub, iStar Theatre Lab, and 54 Below. He was 2018/19 Artist-in-Residence for the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra. Billy is also a recipient of the Excellence in American Theatre Award by the New England Theatre Council.
Lisa is Emmy-nominated and has won three dozen film festival awards as Writer, Producer, and Director. Her work includes content for education, entertainment, corporate, and non-profit businesses. Her goals in life are to create programming that is informational, inspirational, helps bring about positive change in the world, and to hug trees as often as possible.
The Janusz Korczak Association of the USA (JKA-USA), promotes the legacy of Dr. Janusz Korczak (1879-1942), a pediatrician, writer, educator, and humanitarian, who is well known all over the world for his innovative work with Polish and Jewish orphans at two orphanages in Warsaw from 1912 to 1942. On August 5, 1942, Dr. Korczak was taken to the Treblinka death camp, together with his orphans and his staff of nine, and disappeared into its bowels, never to be seen again.
Today, in the USA, we are finding ways to bring Korczak’s legacy to public and private schools, after school programs, camps, Polish and Jewish schools and community centers. We write articles, books, offer lectures, workshops, and camp experiences for young people, parents, and educators.
Matt Coale is an Emmy Award winning Director of Photography based out of Nashville Tennessee with international experience in 35mm, HD and Ultra-HD production. Credits include over 1550 commercials, 170 music videos, 830 television projects, 840 corporate films, 73 webisodes, 6 feature length films and 7 short films. Matt's projects have won over 156 awards including a National Emmy nomination for Cinematography and two Regional Emmy wins.
Kaytek, a mischievous schoolboy who wants to become a wizard, is surprised to discover that he is able to perform magic spells and change reality. He begins to lead a double life: a powerful wizard in the dress of an ordinary boy. It’s all great fun using magic to cause strange incidents in his school and neighborhood, but soon Kaytek’s increasing powers cause major chaos around the city of Warsaw. Disillusioned, he leaves the country and wanders the world in search of the meaning of his good intentions, his unique abilities, and their consequences. Revolving around the notion that power is not without responsibility, nor without repercussions, this story speaks to every child's dream of freeing themselves from the endless control of adults and shaping the world to their own designs. In this, one of Korczak’s most famous works, a boy who becomes a wizard must learn how to grow up, make adult decisions about good and evil, and that there are consequences if we don’t control our personal powers.
Kaytek the Wizard has been presented at these events:
WORLD PUPPETRY AND STORYTELLING CONVENTION
PUPPETEERS OF AMERICA NATIONAL CONVENTION
2019 MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA
2017 INTERNATIONAL KORZAK CONFERENCE - SEATTLE
SANTA BARBARA PUPPETPALOOZA FESTIVAL
NASHVILLE INTERNATIONAL PUPPET FESTIVAL
GRACIE THEATER - BANGOR, MAINE
TENNESSEE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
WEST LIBERTY CHILDREN'S FESTIVAL, IOWA
VIOLINS OF HOPE EVENT
NASHVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY
CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY
GREENSBORO PUBLIC LIBRARY
FISK UNIVERSITY THEATER
ARTS AT CENTER STREET THEATER
TPAC EDUCATION TOUR - NUMEROUS SCHOOLS
About Henryk Goldzmit, AKA Janusz Korczak
During a time of political upheaval in Europe that gave rise to the Nazis, there was one man whose humanitarian efforts brought light and joy to the lives of children. Known to the world by the pen name Janusz Korczak, Henryk Goldzmit (1879-1942) of Warsaw, Poland became a reknown pediatrician, child psychologist, philanthropist, educator, radio personality, and a prolific author of both adult and children’s books and articles (24 fiction and non-fiction books, and 1000+ magazine and newspaper articles). Korczak dedicated his life to advocating for the rights of children, believing that all children deserved love, compassion, respect, and protection from the often cruel world they live in. Wishing to put into practice his research and educational philosophies around the psychological and physical development of children, Korzcak/Goldzmit put aside his successful medical and writing career to become the director of two orphanages – Polish and Jewish. His devotion to children compelled Korczak to first move with the Jewish children to the Warsaw Ghetto, and then travel with the children and staff of the orphanage to the Treblinka Extermination Camp in 1942 where they perished. Although offered many opportunities to safeguard his own life, he refused to leave the children during their time of need, instead helping them die with the dignity they deserved.
Korczak believed strongly in the value of storytelling as a way of teaching children the fundamental importance of moral decision making, often including uplifting stories with realistic situations. The participation of the children in his orphanages was critical to the development of his fairy tales, as Korczak often allowed their creativity and responses to influence the path of the lead characters. Today, there are Korczak institutions throughout the world. The insight and guidance of Korczak feels sorely needed, in a world where chaos, confusion and suffering can impact children dramatically, and where fantasy can help children escape while empowering them for the demands of life. Over the years his books have been made into movies, plays, and an animated series. In 2016, one of Korczak’s most famous novels, Kaytek The Wizard, was adapted by Brian Hull and BriAnimations in 2016 into a multimedia puppet show – one that celebrates a favorite platform of Korczak while engaging all of the senses of children through puppets, actors, music, film, and animation. With sold-out audiences in shows throughout the United States, there is now an opportunity to bring this story to a greater, international audience through the power of film.
A Note from Director and Adaptor, Brian Hull
When I first saw the cover of the book, the illustration of a wizard boy with a scar on his head, leaping over some European town - I immediately thought it was a Harry Potter rip-off. Then I discovered the book was originally published in 1933 by a man named Janusz Korczak. I read the book and was challenged by the story in a way that was different than most children's books I have encountered. As I continued to read the book I began to understand what the author was doing: exploring answers for young people in the form of storytelling and traditional archetypes; good versus evil is made personal when your own actions have dramatic consequences. This in its simplest form is what Korczak believed; that children have the capacity to understand as adults do, they just don't have the experience. It will serve them in life to understand there is a bigger world beyond what they know - figuratively and literally. The story is filled with his philosophies for children and adults, told in a way that is accessible. As I learned more about Janusz Korczak, I couldn't believe I had never heard of him. With research I became determined to create this story in mediums I am familiar with - puppetry, animation, and music.
I am greatly moved by the work and life of Janusz Korczak and feel that so many could benefit from his words. Only good can come from it.
Your tax-deductible contribution will enable us to create this film and spread the teachings and stories of Janusz Korczak worldwide.