“The Ice Cream Man,” a short film about the Holocaust starring Noah Emmerich (“The Americans,” “The Walking Dead,” “The Truman Show”), will be shot partly at Zaharakos ice cream parlor in Columbus in March.
The film is based on the true story of Ernst Cahn, a popular Jewish owner of an ice cream parlor in Amsterdam. In 1941, he was targeted by SS Lt. Klaus Barbie, the infamous “Butcher of Lyon.” Cahn’s actions sparked a series of events that led to what became known as The February Strike, the first and largest anti-Nazi protest during World War II.
It unfolded when over 300,000 Dutch workers shut down the city for three days.
“The ice cream parlor is basically a character in the film, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the Netherlands,” says writer/director Robert Moniot. “Then I discovered pictures of Zaharakos on the Internet, and immediately picked up the phone and cold-called Tony (Moravec).”
The now-late Moravec, a prominent Columbus businessman and philanthropist, was impressed with Moniot and his award-winning screenplay. He donated not only the use of Zaharakos, a treasured local landmark that Moravec spent over two years renovating, but also a significant part of the film’s budget.
“The Ice Cream Man is a movie about standing up to evil,” says Moniot. “Ernst Cahn paid the ultimate price for fighting back, and I think Tony was very moved by that part of the story.”
Given the circumstances with Moravec’s passing in November, Moniot feared that the project was doomed. Yet, he was unaware that before Moravec died, the philanthropist had quietly begun recruiting other donors and volunteers behind the scenes.
“We’re making a big period film on a really tight budget,” says Indianapolis-based producer Greg Malone. “We need volunteers to serve as extras, others to help with production, folks to lend us their vehicles, companies and individuals to sponsor meals for our cast and crew … and of course, someone writing a check is always appreciated.”
The film is run through a nonprofit corporation, so all donations, even in-kind, are 100% tax deductible.
The project is halfway to its funding target, and the filmmakers are busy putting the pieces together in time for the beginning of principal photography, which commences March 14.
“Tony was very passionate about this movie and its message, and it wouldn’t be happening without him,” says Moniot.
The filmmaker sees a lot of similarities between Moravec and Ernst Cahn.
“They both loved people, they both loved ice cream, and they both had a profound effect on the world,” he says. “My job with this film is to honor their legacy.”
To learn more
Or to volunteer or to support the film with a financial donation or in-kind donation: Carol Frische at (812) 378-1864 or at [email protected] — or visit theicecreamman.movie.