Synopsis

Flory’s Flame is a compelling one-hour documentary about the life and music of renowned 90-year old Sephardic composer and performer Flory Jagoda. The documentary interlaces Flory’s personal narrative with selections from her moving September 2013 Celebration Concert at the US Library of Congress.

A National Heritage Fellow — the highest honor given by the US to traditional artists — Flory was born in Sarajevo to a musical family whose roots stretched back to Spain for hundreds of years prior to the Jewish expulsion during the Inquisition in 1492.  Living in small Jewish communities in Bosnia over the ensuing centuries, the songs and lyrics of their culture were lovingly passed down relatively

intact, ultimately reaching Flory, the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust. Flory has spent her career composing, recording and performing this music worldwide, which culminated in the sold-out Celebration Concert in September 2013 in the prestigious halls of the US Library of Congress, where she was joined onstage by 25 musicians with whom she has performed over the years. Flory’s Flame features impactful selections from that concert as well as sound bites from interviews with her, family members and colleagues about her challenging but ultimately triumphant life path and her mission to ensure continuity of her family’s cultural legacy through her music.

Inspiration

The inspiration to create a documentary on this subject came from attending several Flory Jagoda concerts over the years. Drawn into her life story as expressed through her songs and her storytelling interludes, JEMGLO has been interested for over a decade in producing a documentary about this Sephardic Jewish marvel. The timing to move ahead fell into place for Flory and for JEMGLO in 2012.

Filmmakers

Curt Fissel:
Formerly the Chief Photographer and Manager of News and Documentary Staff for NJN, (NJ’s former PBS network), Curt helped co-found and for the past 17 years has served as the director and DP at JEMGLO and at corporate video production company
Voices & Visions Productions.

He has directed and been the DP on over 25 documentaries over the years, almost all of which have been broadcast on PBS and cable channels and many of which have been screened at global film festivals. Curt has received numerous awards, including the Cine Golden Eagle, nominations by NATAS in various EMMY categories including Individual Achievement in Photography and Outstanding Historical Documentary, and Associated Press Outstanding Documentary Awards. A recent production for JEMGLO for which he was director and DP was screened at over 35 international film festivals, including Santa Barbara, Vail, Newport Beach, and Sedona; it won Best Short Documentary at the NJ International Film Festival and several additional “Best” categories at other festivals.


Ellen Friedland:

Ellen has written and produced nine documentaries through JEMGLO, seven of which have been broadcast on PBS and cable TV stations nationwide as well as many other global venues; the eighth, Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean, screened at over 35 international film festivals and won a number of “Best of” awards..

Ellen was the co-founder with Curt of JEMGLO and , Voices & Visions Productions and serves as the president of both. Productions for the two companies have received three silver Tellys, numerous Bronze Tellys, and dozens of additional awards. Ellen was a 2014 recipient of the NJBiz “Best Women in Business” award and is currently a finalist for the NJ Monthly’s “150 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners.” She was a winner of the American Express OPEN Without a Box Competition in 2009, a finalist in the Count Me in for Women’s Economic Independence competition in 2008, an inductee into the Jericho (New York) Hall of Fame, and an awardee of several journalism competitions. She began her professional life as an attorney then became the founding political correspondent for a NJ weekly newspaper before transitioning into documentary and corporate video production.