Professor Dylan Nelson Releases New Film, Receives Three Grants

Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies Dylan Nelson produced the documentary feature film “Groomed,” which premiered March 15 on Discovery +. “Groomed” follows the director’s journey to confront her past as a survivor of child sexual assault. The film has received positive reviews, with The Guardian calling it “strikingly nuanced” and The New York Times calling it “distressing,” and it’s led to a reconsideration of director Gwen van de Pas’s criminal case against her offender in Holland.

Separately, Nelson was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Hall Family Foundation to support her forthcoming documentary, “The Liegnitz Plot.” The Hall Family Foundation funding supplements two additional grants Nelson recently received in support of the film: a $15,000 Momentum Grant from the Catapult Film Fund and a $20,000 post-production grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (the Claims Conference), a preeminent organization for preserving memory of the Holocaust.

 “The Liegnitz Plot” follows Gary Gilbert, a former producer on “Seinfeld,” as he investigates a report dating back to the Holocaust: that a mysterious Nazi stole priceless stamp collections from concentration camp victims, then stashed the stolen stamps in a basement once occupied by the Nazis in Legnica, Poland, for his own gain instead of sending them on to Berlin. 

However, the filmmakers end up finding a story more complex than they had imagined.

While much of the film’s research led to little information about the actual whereabouts of the stamps, it did lead to the discovery of little-known stories about the Holocaust. And those are the stories Nelson wants to tell.

“Our hope is we are going to be able to tell Holocaust stories in the guise of a mystery and thereby reach a broad audience,” she says. This comes at a time of increased anti-Semitism in the United States and a rise in right-wing populism in Poland.

Nelson and her creative partner on the project, Dan Sturman — a frequent block visitor in the Film and Media Studies Program at Colorado College — have almost completed principal photography and are working with two editors to put together a full rough cut of the film to help secure additional funding.

Nelson notes that in the U.S. there are few state-sponsored film funds like those that provide the backbone of the documentary ecosystem in Europe, so finding funding as an independent documentary filmmaker is challenging. In 2019, Nelson was selected as one of only 20 world-wide producers to attend the highly competitive Sundance Creative Producing Summit, where she further developed the film. The summit yields vital connections but not necessarily funds, she says.

 “The Liegnitz Plot” will gain further momentum this summer as two CC students and a recent grad will work with Nelson. Skye Schelz ’21 has been serving as a post-production and research assistant for several months, and Maya Rajan ’22 and Pema Baldwin ’22 will be conducting research for the film, primarily in the Shoah Foundation survivor testimony archives, thanks to the Faculty Student Collaborative Summer Grants program.






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