Sosua: Make a Better World tells the story of Jewish and Dominican teenagers in New York City’s Washington Heights, who together with the legendary theater director, Liz Swados, put on a musical about the Dominican rescue of 800 Jews from Hitler’s Germany. Award winning filmmakers Peter Miller and Renee Silverman interweave an intimate, behind-the-scenes portrait of the neighborhood with this little-known Holocaust story.

Through the young actors’ eyes, we are introduced to a morally complex history in which the Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo – a murderous strongman – took in the Jews, largely because they were white. At the same time, he was also murdering tens of thousands of Haitians because they were not. The film draws on rare archival images to illustrate the little-known Dominican rescue effort – from newsreel clips of FDR’s Evian Conference and evocative shots of boatloads of refugees in New York harbor to scenes of working and domestic life in the rural Dominican outpost of Sosua, where the Jews launched their new lives.

But the main story lies in the present. Over the course of the film, we are engrossed by the alchemy of the cast members who come together in making the musical. We see a disparate group of young, untested, talented Dominican and Jewish kids who through dancing, singing, crying and creating theater together, form new bonds forged on old ties.

In a neighborhood where Jews and Latinos live side by side but rarely interact, Sosua: Make a Better World charts the teens’ extraordinary journey of discovery of what unites them – both in the past and in the present.


Theatrical Trailer

“Has elements of West Side Story, Jewish refugees in a strange land, and civics lessons on American diversity, all rolled together into one sweet film.”Jewish Journal

Directed and Produced by
Peter Miller
Renee Silverman

Peter Miller

Additional Sound
Matheus Parizi Carvalho
Diane Hounsell
Tobias Lutke
Peter Miller
Renee Silverman

Music Composed by
Liz Swados

Sosua: Dare to Dance Together
Composed & directed by Liz Swados
Conceived & Originated by Victoria Neznansky
Assistant Director – Matthew Gehring
Music Director – Shaina Taub
Set & Puppetry Designer – Eli Kaplan-Wildmann

Kaitlin Abreu
Cindy de la Cruz
Kassandra de la Cruz
Marcela Espaillat
Darien Fernandez
Annie Fidoten
Jeremy Gershonowitz
John Gutierrez
Jordan Hoepelman
Derek Jeffry
Cody Kostro
Brett Krutiansky
Hannah Krutiansky
Naomi Nesher
Ben Pakman
Thalia Pignanelli
Luis Rodriguez
Alison Schilling
Margaret Saunders
Zoe Tchapraste

Martin Englisher
Executive Vice President
YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood

Edited by
Aaron Vega

Caroline Berler

Matheus Parizi Carvalho
Eric Kanner
Ariel Endacott
Caroline Freedman
John Gutirriez

Instrumental Music Performed by
Sam Willmott – piano/arranger
Hiroyuki Matsuura – drums/percussion
Recorded at Dubway Studios
Anthony Gibney – engineer

Archival Footage
John E. Allen, Inc.
National Archives

National Archives Researcher
Elisabeth Hartjens, Imagefinders

National Archives Transfers
Henninger Media Services

Main Title Design
Brian O’Connell
Asteroid Media, Inc.

Still Photography
Roj Rodriguez

Development Consultants
Hilda Chazanovitz
Terence Mickey

Web Design
Scott Docherty / Redhare

Trailer Editor
Amy Linton

Executive Producer
Donald Rabinovitch

Produced by
YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood
With the generous support of
UJA Federation of New York

Associate Producer
Caroline Berler

Additional Camera
Caroline Berler
Matheus Parizi Carvalho
Brian Dentz
Antonio Rossi

Additional Editing
Scott Hancock

Post Production Facility
Glue Editing & Design
Steve Pequignot – on-line editor/colorist
Evan Benjamin – sound editor/re-recording mixer

Special Thanks
Becca Baldwin
Ira Berkow
Elise M. Bernhardt
Ester Bloom
Rene Bouchard
Judith Ginsberg
Andrew Ingall
Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky
Marion Kaplan
Gene Korf
Judith Lupatkin
Valerie Marcus
Susan Margolin
Anna Miller
Nora Miller
Lilli Platt
Donald Rabinovitch
Carlos Sandoval
Michael Schmidt
Dina Siegel Vann
Debra Vega
Yitzi Zabkocki
Natalie Zimmerman
Sam Zimmerman
Sebastian Zimmerman

Fiscal Sponsor
Independent Filmmaker Project

Produced in Association with
Other Islands Films, Inc.

©2012 Willow Pond Films
All rights reserved