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Lives Restarted

Lives Restarted is a documentary that traces the lives of Holocaust survivors after their release from the camps and their individual journeys to find freedom in the U.S. The film focuses on the challenges of restarting their lives, and in most cases, without any family, not knowing how to speak English, pennies in their pockets and only what they could carry in a small suitcase when they arrived in the USA.

  • Waheed AlQawasmi
    Scorned, Hometown Glory
  • Waheed AlQawasmi
    Scorned, Hometown Glory
  • Jerry Ehrlich
    Executive Producer
  • David Gonzalez
    Conan the Barbarian
  • Ryan Parker
  • Brian D. Elkins
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, history
  • Runtime:
    38 minutes 42 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 5, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, 2K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Indie Memphis Film Festival
    Memphis, TN
    United States
    November 4, 2016
  • Audience Awards Festival

  • Oxford Film Festival
    Oxford, MS
    United States
    February 18, 17
Director Biography - Waheed AlQawasmi

Filmmaker Waheed AlQawasmi is a native of Jordan and has worked in the U.S. as a producer and director. He grew up in Amman, Jordan and immigrated to Memphis, Tennessee, in the year 2000. There he attended school and was exposed to the rare and rich Fine Arts Program at Germantown high school, where he garnered a number of awards including the first National Student Emmy Award at the age of 15 (2003).

Shortly after, Waheed’s career took off and he undertook producing a variety of narrative work including Home Town Glory, a feature length documentary about a group of heroic high school students in the 1970’s who fought fires to save their community. In 2010, Waheed produced and directed Scorned, a short film that was accepted into the Nashville International Film Festival. During the festival, the distribution rights were sold to Ouat! Media.

Waheed went on to serve a five-year tenure with FOX Television, where he was appointed Creative Services Director, launching promotional and marketing campaigns for TV shows such as The Following and New Girl.

Waheed has also ventured into producing a variety of music videos for the likes of The Band Perry, Rascal Flatts, to TV commercials and social media content for Zappos, Cheerios, GoDaddy, and Google. He also produced a variety of one-hour TV specials fronted by Reba McEntire and Jennifer Nettles airing on CMT. Waheed also went on to win additional Emmy awards and secured multiple Addy awards.

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Director Statement

The catalyst for why I directed Lives Restarted is very personal. The documentary traces the lives of Holocaust survivors after their release from camps and their individual journeys to find freedom in the U.S.A and the challenges of restarting their lives, not knowing how to speak English, and pennies in their pockets when they arrived in the USA. I too am an immigrant to the U.S. who came here with $60 in my pocket as a teenager to live with family.

I was born and raised in Amman, Jordan until I was thirteen years old. In school, we were taught about many aspects of World War II, except for the Holocaust. Imagine my surprise when I immigrated to the U.S in the year 2000, enrolled in high school, and one of our first chapters in world history was about the Holocaust. Why have I never heard of this atrocity before? Thankfully in the U.S. there is a lot of material for someone to digest about the Holocaust; I found myself spending the next couple of years consuming as much as I could about the history of the Jewish people and about the Holocaust during World War II.

Growing up in a predominantly Palestinian family, there was a tendency of mistrusting the Jewish community because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, my journey as an immigrant to the U.S. taught me the importance of leaving this behind and to look beyond the stereotype. I never met a Jewish person until I enrolled in a fine arts program during my high school years. Our teacher, Mr. Bluestein, took me under his wing and taught me so much about the world of fine arts, film, theatre, and life. I developed many relationships within the Jewish community. I worked for a Jewish photographer, my best friends were Jewish. I learned that we as humans have a lot in common, most want to be happy and prosper.

This documentary is very topical with the current U.S. political atmosphere, and quite honestly, the world atmosphere. A favorite saying among the Holocaust survivors I interviewed, is “NEVER FORGET”, as they talk about their experiences during the Holocaust, to tech us all a lesson in humility and humanity. Unfortunately hate still exists in this world, and many people seem to forget the horrible episode in which eleven million innocent people where systematically liquidated. The horizon is dark and we see it creeping everywhere around us. Now more than ever, we truly need to “NEVER FORGET”.