Movie Based on True Story of Jewish Ice Cream Shop Owner and Nazi Resistance Fighter Wins Filmmaking Contest
by Shiryn Ghermezian
A screenplay about the true story of Ernst Cahn, a Jewish ice cream parlor owner in the Netherlands who was targeted by the infamous Nazi leader and war criminal Klaus Barbie during World War II, was announced on Thursday as the winner of the Emerging Filmmaker’s Contest organized by The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference).
Writer and director Robert Moniot was awarded $50,000 to produce his film The Ice Cream Man, beating 22 other submissions of projects that were all focused on the Holocaust.
“We are honored to have been recognized by the Claims Conference in this contest,” Moniot, who is currently developing three other films as well, said in a released statement. “Given the significant rise in antisemitism, hate speech and fascism across the globe, these are the kinds of stories that people should hear and talk about. It is such a big responsibility and honor to be able to tell the story of Ernest Cahn. We really want to get it right.”
The Ice Cream Man takes place shortly after the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, where Cahn finds himself targeted by Barbie — who was nicknamed “the Butcher of Lyon” for his method of torturing prisoners. “As his world crumbles, The Ice Cream Man must choose between resistance and death…a choice that will reverberate throughout the country,” according to a synopsis for the film.
Cahn was the first executed resistance fighter in the Netherlands. More than 300,000 Jewish workers in Amsterdam and Cahn’s supporters went on strike on Feb. 25, 1941, to protest his arrest at his shop, the Koco Ice Cream Parlor, as well as the Nazi regime’s pogroms and forced labor targeting Jews. The uprising, known as The February Strike, was the first anti-Nazi protest in World War II. The Nazis eventually rounded up more than 400 Jewish men in Amsterdam and deported them to the Buchenwald and Mauthausen Nazi concentration camps, and only two survived.
The Ice Cream Man is produced by award winner Gregor Wilson (Inglorious Bastards, Justice League) and actor Noah Emmerich (The Americans, The Truman Show) stars as Cahn.
“I’ve been a fan of Rob Moniot’s work for many years, and we have been looking for something to work on together for a long time. When Rob sent me this script, I was blown away,” Emmerich said about his involvement in the film. “Beyond the predictable excellence of his writing, this story hit very close to home for me. My father’s family fled Nazi Germany for Amsterdam, and as a boy my dad lived in the same neighborhood as Ernst Cahn’s ice cream parlor. So to have the opportunity to tell this very personally resonant story and finally have the chance work with Rob, it was a no-brainer. I am thrilled to be a part of this film.”
Claims Conference President Gideon Taylor hailed the film as “a story of heroism and courage” that needs to be shared with the public.
“Film is a vital medium in our global efforts to support Holocaust education,” he added. “Creating programs like the Emerging Filmmaker Contest creates opportunities to facilitate the telling of Holocaust stories, ensuring testimonies from the Holocaust are collected and shared, and allows the history of the Shoah to live on for future generations to see, experience and understand.”
The jury for this year’s contest included Emmy-nominated director and producer Hilla Medalia; Christine Kecher, senior commissioning editor for op-docs at The New York Times; Masa Markovic, head of industry at the Sarajevo Film Festival; and Irit Shimrat, director of international relations at the New Fund for Cinema and Television.
Applications for the 2023 Claims Conference Emerging Filmmaker Contest will open on May 1.