The movie Schindler’s List won critical acclaim for telling the story of Oscar Schindler, who saved the lives of more than 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust. Now, Israeli Gal Gadot, who rose to fame as Wonder Woman, will produce and star in a film about a Christian and Polish activist who risked her life to save 2,500 Jewish children.
Gadot, who is Jewish, announced last week that she and her husband have formed a new production company called Pilot Wave. She will star in its first production as Irena Sendler, who smuggled thousands of Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto to safety.
“As producers, we want to help bring stories that have inspired us to life,” Godot said in an interview with the website Deadline. “Pilot Wave will create content that promotes the perspectives and experiences of unique people and produce impactful stories aimed at igniting the imagination.”
In an Instagram post Gadot confirmed, “Pilot Wave is taking off!” referring to the new production company she formed with husband Jaron Varsano. “I’m so excited this is finally out. @jaronvarsano and I have been working on this for quite some time and I just CAN’T wait to bring to life all the amazing stories we’re working on with all of our wonderfully talented partners.”
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Pilot Wave is taking off! I’m so excited this is finally out. @jaronvarsano and I have been working on this for quite some time and I just CAN'T wait to bring to life all the amazing stories we're working on with all of our wonderfully talented partners. … … “As producers, we want to help bring stories that have inspired us to life. Pilot Wave will create content that promotes the perspectives and experiences of unique people and produce impactful stories aimed at igniting the imagination.”
Irena Sendler will be a historical thriller that details the young woman’s defiance against the Nazis. By 1942, the Nazis had forced nearly half a million Jews into the Warsaw Ghetto to await deportation and death and half of those previously forced there had already been sent to concentration camps.
Sender was just 29-years-old and a social worker who took care of thousands displaced by the Nazis. Disguised in a nursing uniform, Sendler and a colleague named Irena Schultz went into the ghetto to provide aid and medical care to Jewish families. After soon realizing these families would quickly be deported to death camps, Sendler launched an undercover mission to smuggle the Jewish children out of the camp.
As her biographer wrote, “Irena knew she had to help the sick and starving Jews who were imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto. She began by smuggling food, clothing, and medicine into the ghetto.”
The team worked secretly with Catholic orphanages, especially the Family of Mary orphanage in Warsaw.
Sendler, code-named “Jolanta,” and her co-conspirators managed to smuggle thousands of children out of the ghetto in coffins, suitcases, ambulances sacks, potato sacks, a tool box and even through the sewage system. The children eventually were placed permanently in Christian families and Catholic convents.
In 1943 the Gestapo uncovered the covert activity, raided her home and brutally tortured Sendler after her arrest. She refused to betray the location of the children to the Nazis. She was sentenced to death but then something amazing happened. Miraculously, Sendler’s Nazi guards were bribed on the day of her execution, and she escaped. The state of Israel recognized her as Righteous Among the Nations in 1965 but the Communist government refused to allow her to leave Poland to accept the honor.
Not much was know about Sendler’s story in the U. S. until the late 1990s, when Kansas high-schoolers researched her life and wrote a play about her called “Life in a Jar,” which was later adapted into a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV special.
Israel gave her honorary citizenship in 1991. Sendler also received the Gold Cross of Merit and the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest honor, for her role in saving the Jews. She died in 2008 at age 98.
Gadot, who stated that Sendler is a heroine, is also working on a sequel to her blockbuster Wonder Woman.
–Alan Goforth and Dwight Widaman
To learn more about Irena Sendler or “Life in a Jar,” check out these options on Amazon with whom Metro Voice is an affiliate partner.