A SUNY Oswego faculty-student team of Juliet Aires Giglio and Mic-Anthony Hay ’18 are producing a documentary to preserve the memories of cousins who were 7 years old when they had to leave Eastern Europe for Fort Ontario’s Safe Haven to escape the Holocaust.
A Faculty-Student Challenge Grant from the college’s Scholarly and Creative Activities Committee makes the project possible, providing the means for Hay, a journalism major, to do cinematography and editing for the documentary last summer, and for Riki (formerly Rikicia) and David Levi—both now 80—to return to Oswego for interviews from their homes in the New York metropolitan area for A New Home in Oswego: The Story of Two Refugees.
The Levi cousins and other family members were among the 982 European, mostly Jewish, refugees who were allowed into the United States as “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt from August 1944 to February 1946. The stories the Levis tell are personal for Giglio, a screenwriter and faculty member of English and creative writing at SUNY Oswego. Riki Levi is her husband’s mother; David, his cousin once removed.
“For 30 years I’ve heard the stories my mother-in-law has told about the time at Fort Ontario,” Giglio said. “If Safe Haven had not been available for the Levis, my husband (Keith Giglio) would not be here. I want to preserve Riki’s and David’s memories on film.”
Excited to move forward, Giglio immediately thought of one of her students, Hay, a photographer with more than 56,000 Instagram followers who has been working to sharpen his cinematography skills.
Besides the chance to build his resume and skills, Hay said, “I’ve been looking for the perfect way to give back to the college. I’ve had great experiences here and I have so many mentors, so many people to thank. That’s what also makes this such a great opportunity. I am grateful for the grant and the opportunity to work with Professor Giglio.”
After graduating in December, Hay plans to become a freelance photographer and filmmaker.
The film will be available for viewing at youtube.com/micanthonyhay.