Columbia prof Michael Caplan’s doc, “Stones from the Soil,” on German-Jewish school airs on PBS

Michael Caplan’s personal documentary “Stones from the Soil” premieres in 75 markets on PBS Plus this month.

“Stones from the Soil” explores the impact of Gross-Breesen, a Jewish school in 1930s Germany that saved 150 Jewish teenagers from the Holocaust, including Caplan’s own father, Rudolph Caplan.

New York, Boston, Dallas, and Milwaukee stations are broadcasting the doc in May, along with PBS affiliates in Ohio, Connecticut, Virginia and Nebraska.

“Some of the bigger markets already had programming for Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah, which is May 6,” Caplan said. “In some of the markets we got a great tie-in with that. We seem to have done really well in a lot of the medium-sized markets.”

PBS National offered the program in a satellite feed to affiliates May 1. Each affiliate has the option of broadcasting the program up to three times within the next three years.

“It’s a mind-blowing, but very abstract notion, that ?Stones from the Soil’ is playing in all these different parts of the country,” Caplan said, “but I don’t actually get to experience it, in some ways it won’t seem real, until it plays here.”

Ch. 11 has tentatively slated “Stones from the Soil” for a local broadcast premiere in July, to be preceded by Caplan’s appearance on “Chicago Tonight.”

The film will continue to reach the rest of the nation in the coming months. Cleveland, for instance, has indicated it will screen this summer.

Caplan is working with a consultant to develop a curriculum to accompany the film. He plans to begin targeting it to the educational market, “starting with, but not exclusively, Jewish schools and community organizations and synagogues.”

Caplan is in production on his next feature doc, “Experiencing the Impossible,” about an informal group of stage magicians who perform “magic with meaning, bringing magic back to its roots, using myths and fables.”

“Experiencing the Impossible” has been shooting on-and-off since 2003 and will continue at least through this fall. Caplan plans to start cutting it early next year.

Caplan, who teaches film at Columbia College, produced the narrative features “Peoria Babylon,” “The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me,” and “The Windy City.”


For more on “Stones from the Soil” see