To get most fundraisers going, many outgoing calls have to be made. But for Saturday’s “Get Reel with Director Bryan Singer” event, it was an incoming call that made things happen.
“Bryan Singer chose us,” says Steve Tepper, director of the East Valley Jewish Community Center.
Singer, director of “The Usual Suspects” and all three “X-Men” films, happens to be a childhood friend of EVJCC volunteer Nancy Stutman’s son.
“She thought that if she could get Bryan Singer to come in for an event, ‘What would we be able to do with it?’” says Tepper. What they came up with was an “Inside the Actor’s Studio”-style program, where Singer will discuss his experiences working in the film business.
The money raised will go toward developing the Center for Holocaust and Tolerance Education, a museum the nonprofit plans to build in a lot next to its Chandler headquarters.
“I am Jewish and am proud to support the museum’s success,” Singer said in a Q&A with the EVJCC. “You don’t tell stories like (the films) ‘Valkyrie’ or ‘Apt Pupil’ without it impacting you in a very personal way. It’s critically important for us to honor Holocaust victims and survivors and the unimaginable experiences they endured. It is only by remembering that we can strive to prevent anything like that to happen again.”
“Get Reel” is part of Chandler’s Celebration of Unity, an annual series of events held to honor the city’s diversity and the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement.
“With the purpose of the museum — talking about making sure that people’s rights are preserved, making sure that the tenets behind freedom are upheld, making sure that genocides don’t happen in the future — those tie in nicely with Martin Luther King,” Tepper says.
The museum is in the early stages of planning, with no set date of completion. The Singer event is only the second fundraiser to be held for the center, which recently secured its first major artifact: a World War II-era rail car. That car, of the type and era used to transport Holocaust victims, cattle, and other goods, will soon be shipped from Macedonia.
Tepper says the EVJCC is taking an “inside-out” approach to building the facility, on the advice of Michael Berenbaum, project director for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
“You don’t need walls, you don’t need doors, you don’t need an outside structure until you’ve really honed in on, specifically, what is your concept,” he says. “How are you telling that story, and then, more specifically, what are the exhibits that you are going to use for that? We are in the final stages of doing that storytelling piece, and then really translating that into exhibits. From there, we will be able to design the outside very quickly.”
“Get Reel with Director Bryan Singer” is at 8 p.m. Saturday at Chandler Center for the Arts. Tickets, $36, are available at (480) 782-2680 or www.chandlercenter.org. VIP tickets are $100 and include premier seating, a post-event reception catered by Chandler restaurants Cork and BLD, and a signed photo of Singer.
• Preston, a junior studying journalism at Arizona State University, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact him at (480) 898-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org