Comcast, which bills itself as “one of the world’s leading media, entertainment and communications companies,” is about to launch an on-demand series of films connected to Steven Spielberg. But don’t expect “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Instead, as The New York Times reports today, Philadelphia-based Comcast “is distributing 10 films about the Holocaust in a public service project it is calling Days of Remembrance.” Through an unprecedented arrangement with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, which Spielberg founded in 1994 to collect testimony of Holocaust survivors, Comcast will give its customers access to ten films, some in English and some in other languages, through video-on-demand and an iPad app, the Times reports. Others will be able to stream the films at XfinityTV.com. Pegged to Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 1, the streaming will start Monday and last through May 25.
Along with films like Russian-language documentary Children from the Abyss and Italian doc I Only Wanted to Live, the Days of Remembrance home page will offer video testimonials on demand from ten survivors. “This is the first time these films will be offered as a complete package to a U.S. television audience,” according to a press release.
According to the Times, the project had its genesis in a call from Comcast’s Jewish chief executive, Brian Roberts, to Spielberg after the cable titan failed to score a meeting with the Hollywood heavyweight. “I just decided to call him to tell him what a shame it was to be there and not see Steven Spielberg,” Roberts told the Times. Spielberg apparently responded: “Funny you should say that. We just sent you a letter.”
In a statement e-mailed to the Forward, Roberts said that “the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s mission to preserve the memory of one of the world’s greatest horrors, so that we may never endure it again, is some of the most important work we can support. My father, Ralph, is of the generation that lived through not only the Great Depression, but also WWII and the ravages of the Holocaust. We can never forget the incredible stories of survival. And thanks to the important work that Steven Spielberg and the Shoah Foundation Institute are doing, we never will.”