By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
“Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog”
is a remarkable and dramatic film from director and screenwriter Lynn Roth (“The Little Traitor”)
who adapted the movie from Asher Kravitz’s 2015 best-selling novel “The Jewish Dog.”
Every dog owner knows the unconditional joy and love their four-legged friend brings. Imagine having that beloved pet taken and you're separated from them. Talk about devastating.
Well, that’s part of the premise behind “Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog.” The movie is set in Berlin 1935 and Jews are being persecuted at every turn. “No Jews Allowed” signs are prominently displayed in store windows. In addition, due to the Nuremberg Laws, Jews aren’t allowed to even own pets.
This poses a major problem for the Schoenmann family. Young Joshua (August Maturo, “Girl Meets World”) and his older sister, Rachel (Viktoria Stefanovsky) are at home watching in delight as their mom Shoshonna (Ayelet Zurer, TV's "You") and dad Adam (Samuel Porogi, "Parasites in Paradise") help their purebred German shepherd deliver a perky litter of puppies.
Their flat is barely big enough for the four of them. So, Keeping the other pups is out of the question. Their parents tell them they can only keep one and the others will be given away.
The kids decide on the feistiest one of the bunch and they name him Kaleb. The puppy really takes an immediate liking to Joshua and the two form a strong and warm bond.
Then when word is out that the family has dogs, all of them are rounded up and whisked away. Kaleb is taken to a work camp and cared for by a Nazi guard (Ken Duken, TV’s “Professionals”).
Joshua is placed in a concentration camp without his family or Kaleb. Much to the dismay of the Nazi leaders, a series of extraordinary events arise that reunites the resilient Joshua and Kaleb on their journey to freedom.
“Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog” isn’t a very dark and violent Holocaust movie and can serve as a palatable history lesson for kids. It’s hard not to root for little Joshua as he goes through the wringer throughout the film. He’ll warm your heart for sure, but the real star here, paws down, is Kaleb, the German shepherd.
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Watch This Trailer For "SHEPHERD: THE STORY OF A JEWISH DOG"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.