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Houston Chronicle: Short Film Tells Story of Ingrid Pitt, Holocaust

Published on: 14th April, 2012

Perry Chen shown drawing animation for the short film Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest, about how 8-year-old Ingrid Pitt and her mother escaped the Stutthof concentration camp during World War II. Photo by Zhu Shen


Short film tells story of Ingrid Pitt, Holocaust

By Menachem Wecker
Published 02:42 p.m., Thursday, April 12, 2012

When Perry Chen visited animator Bill Plympton‘s booth at Comic-Con in San Diego in 2009, Plympton was handing out drawings of his character Hot Dog as souvenirs. Perry, then 10 years old, made a copy on the spot and handed his illustration to Plympton.

Plympton and his friend Kevin Sean Michaels, a director, were “stunned” by the similarity of style, says Perry’s mother, Zhu Shen.

About nine months later, Plympton and Michaels got back in touch to invite Perry to animate their six-minute short film, “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest.”

The film, narrated by Pitt, who died at 73 in 2010, depicts the horror-film star’s escape from the concentration camp Stutthof as an 8-year-old. It will be shown Sunday at WorldFest Houston.

Jud Newborn, a former historian at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York and a consultant for the film, admits he was initially skeptical that a child could appreciate the enormity of the Holocaust. “It took me a little bit of time to see the light, and then I saw it very clearly,” he says.

In the end, it makes sense to have a 10-year-old tell a story about an 8-year-old, Newborn says. “The film is the Holocaust told through the eyes of children younger than Anne Frank was,” he says. “Perry could give a voice to all those children who suffered in a manner that is ultimately uplifting.”

Perry has drawn since he was 3, says his mother, who has studied and taught art herself.

“The sensibility, and how kids draw, is so different from adults. An adult couldn’t have created that,” she says of the film.

Perry managed to juggle his schoolwork and the thousands of digital drawings he created for the film.

The goal of the film, Perry says, is to teach children that the Holocaust never be allowed to occur again.

“Before, I knew a bit about the Holocaust but not that much,” he says. “I knew that it happened and that the Germans, they killed the Jewish people because they didn’t like their religion. When I researched, I learned how truly horrific it was really was, and how they mistreated them really badly.”

The message is very timely, as state-funded animation is being used in the Middle East for “anti-Semitic propaganda aimed at children,” says Newborn, the historian and lecturer.

“Animation … is particularly entertaining. It’s beguiling. But it can often be complex and convey almost any kind of message, both in an insidious way as well as a wonderfully poignant and human way because it’s somewhat disarming,” he says.

The film can be particularly relevant to Houston residents, Newborn adds, since the Holocaust Museum Houston‘s Garden of Hope is dedicated to the 1.5 million child victims of the Holocaust.

“Paying attention to children who suffered is something that has been done very well in Houston,” he says.

Menachem Wecker is a freelance writer.

“Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest” screening at WorldFest Houston International Film Festival, Sunday April 15, 2012, at 1 pm:


About Perry Chen:

Perry S. Chen is an 11-year-old award-winning child film critic, artist, animator, TEDx speaker, and entertainment personality, currently in 6th grade from San Diego.  He started reviewing movies at age 8 in 3rd grade using a kid-friendly starfish rating system, and has been featured in CBS, NPR, NBC, CNN, CCTV (China Central Television), Variety, Animation Magazine, The Young Icons, The Guardian, The China Press, etc.  He was a presenter at the 2010 Annie Awards for Animation, and has written movie reviews for Animation World Network, San Diego Union Tribune, Amazing Kids! Magazine, and his own Perry’s Previews blog:

Perry won an “Excellence in Journalism Award” from San Diego Press Club in 2010 and 2011 for his movie and restaurant reviews, an “Excellence Writer Award” from “We Chinese in America” Magazine in 2010 for his movie review column. Perry is widely recognized as an authoritative spokesperson about movies for his generation, and appears frequently at red carpet movie premieres, awards, and film festivals, interviewing prominent directors from such films as Toy Story 3, Up, How to Train Your Dragon.  He was a presenter at the 2010 Annie Awards for Animation in Hollywood.  Perry and his mom Dr. Zhu Shen are featured in a new book about parenting and youth entrepreneurship, “The Parent’s Guide to Raising CEO Kids,” published in Aug 2011.

Become a fan on Facebook: (Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest official FB page) (Perry’s Previews fan page)

Subscribe to Perry’s YouTube channel and watch his filmmaker interviews:

About “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest”

“Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest” is Perry Chen’s first film as the sole animator. The film premiered to critical acclaim at LA Shorts Fest & Comic-Con in July, 2011, acquired for worldwide distribution in Sep 2011 by Shorts International, distributor of Oscar-nominated shorts, won a “Special Jury Award” for “Extraordinary Vision” at Flyway Film Festival in Wisconsin in Oct, 2011, featured as a bonus film at the 2011 Animation Show of Shows, and has been touring film festivals around the world. Perry Chen was invited to present this film at DreamWorks Animation in Dec 2011, with introduction by “How to Train Your Dragon” director Dean DeBlois. Become a fan on Facebook: (Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest official FB page) (Perry’s Previews fan page)

Subscribe to Perry’s YouTube channel and watch his filmmaker interviews:

For more information about Perry Chen, his animation films, and movie reviews, contact Dr. Zhu Shen,


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