If you were forced to choose between saving your own life by doing something that would kill thousands or risk being humiliated and executed in public to save them, how would you react? Could you make the right decision?

That’s the idea behind the new short film “Dirty Bomb” which begins its run across the festival circuit in 2018.

“Dirty Bomb,” directed by Valerie McCaffrey and starring Israeli actor Ido Samuel, is the true story of prisoners in the Nazi-controlled Mittelbau-Dora Camp tasked with building the deadly V2 Missiles for Hitler’s army during WWII. Several of the Jewish prisoners made the bold move to sabotage the bombs to prevent massive casualties. In doing so, they were hanged for their insubordination.

In an interview with The {C} Magazine, Samuel said while he knew this story was a powerful one when he first read the script, the finished version was even stronger than he first anticipated.

“I hoped we could make the film as good as script, but I’m very pleased that it came out even better than I imagined it to be,” he said. “Everything about it, be it the music, cinematography, the acting, it was so strong. I was very happy to see it.”

As a native Israeli, Samuel said the film took on a special meaning for him, given his people’s agonizing tragedy suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

“Being from Israel, I felt like I heard thousands of stories from the Holocaust because everyone was either a survivor, or related to a survivor or knew someone who lived through it,” he said. “But this story of how these 200 or so prisoners risked their lives so all the V2 bombs didn’t explode, and how the Nazis hanged them but they kept doing it was a story I had never heard. So, I felt a strong obligation to honor these unsung heroes.”

The cast of 'Dirty Bomb' gather at the premiere in Los Angeles earlier this month.

The cast of ‘Dirty Bomb’ gather at a special private showing in Los Angeles earlier this month.

To make the film as authentic as possible, they recreated the underground camp that was originally used as a fuel depot before being redesigned to build the deadly V-2 missiles. They also recreated the well-documented prisoner costumes down to the last stitch. Samuel said wearing that striped jumpsuit was an emotional experience that he won’t soon forget.

“The costume was so real, and the set looked like a real Holocaust camp,” he said. “Once I put on that suit, it was very powerful for me, as was putting that number on my hand. That was very emotional as well.”

Those inmate identification numbers also were placed on each bomb, so the officers could easily trace who made what and who to punish if it was not made correctly.

The cruelty of the Holocaust stands the test of time as one of the worst in human history. That said, Samuel said the film’s story is just as relevant today as it was when the events took place. He said he hopes that people who see the film will further understand how the Holocaust’s devastation affected so many people from multiple generations and how these brave prisoners helped save thousands of lives.

“I really want people to know about this story because there’s a lot of people who don’t know about these heroes — I didn’t until Valerie told me about it and I started researching it all online. Then, I think there’s a lot of stuff relevant in this film to what’s going on the world today and how one racist person who’s spreading hate got so big because a lot of people stayed quiet and how for evil to succeed all it takes is for a good man to do nothing. Then, I hope this shows the story of what one person can do, and how one prisoner can save thousands and thousands of lives,” he said.

While this short film is set to hit the festival circuit soon, Samuel said they are looking at possibly expanding the story to a full-length film, if they can find enough support and positive reception for this short.

They certainly have the connections to make it happen, it would seem, as well. McCaffrey might seem like a relative newcomer to directing and writing, but she’s worked as a casting director and producer for more than 100 films going back to the 1980s. Some of her most well-known projects she’s worked on include “American History X,” “Babe,” and “Dark City.”

Valerie McCaffrey, director of 'Dirty Bomb' discusses the film.

Valerie McCaffrey, director of ‘Dirty Bomb’ discusses the film.

Samuel said he got into contact with McCaffrey shortly after moving to the U.S. four years ago. They formed a close bond right away and he said it’s been a joy working with her on this project.

“I knew she casted ‘American History X’ which is one of my favorite films, and which is what we talked a lot about when we met. Now, having done this film, I can say that working with her has been more than a dream come true. She was very emotional, knew what she wanted, and knew how to get stuff out of me and the other cast and crew. It’s been an amazing experience working with her.”

The film’s story also held special meaning for the director. McCaffrey’s family is of Armenian origin and she has revealed in interviews that her grandparents are survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

As for where you can watch it, McCaffrey has said that the film could possibly be shown on HBO, Sundance Channel, or other online streaming services in addition to museums and/or schools across the country.

For more information on the film, check out its IMDB page here.

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