United States, 2020
Directed by Rafal Zielinksi
This film, set in Los Angeles, tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a cynical homeless teen and a Holocaust survivor, and while it is largely a two-person drama, it presents us with the larger questions of fear, courage, forgiveness, and healing. Starring multiple Emmy Award-winner Ed Asner in one of his last performances, it presents us with a masterful conclusion to his formidable acting career. We may all remember him as Lou Grant, but in “Tiger Within,” Asner demonstrated that at almost 91 years of age, he still had what it takes. As Samuel, an aged Holocaust survivor, he touches our hearts as he shuffles through his lonely, solitary days in the city. He enables us to believe his willingness to take in a runaway girl who has grown tough as steel. The teenager Casey has run away from a completely dysfunctional and broken family, and her interactions with her family make it easy to understand her ignorance, her aggression, and her initial inability to believe that Samuel’s caring is genuine. While this film may lack subtlety, it more than compensates with heart, and Asner’s effectively restrained performance as the self-effacing Holocaust survivor and widower strengthens the dialogue by not overplaying it. We are proud to include it in the Windsor Jewish Film Festival not only because it is a moving Jewish story but also because Ed Asner was a cousin to the Asner family of our own Windsor Jewish community. Asner served in the US Army during the Korean War and studied drama with his veteran’s benefits, leading to a long career on stage and film and especially on television. This movie is our opportunity to witness Asner at his fully developed-- a year before his death—in his portrayal of Samuel, a survivor of the worst the world has to offer, yet still willing to reach out his hand to a child of the streets.
This film is generously sponsored by the Ruth and Bernard Friedman Endowment Fund