The Ottumwa Courier

September 27, 2013

Fairfield film maker's documentary seeing success

By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer

---- — FAIRFIELD — A small Iowa town is generally not the place where you will find a writer and director for a feature-length documentary.

Fittingly, though, the filmmaker who happens to call Fairfield home, Marc Halberstadt, has created a documentary movie about Native Americans. The film, titled “CowJews and Indians: How Hitler Scared My Family — And I Woke Up in an Iroquois Longhouse With a Picture of Jesus, Reminding Me — For the Wrong Reason — That I Owe the Mohawks Rent,” has seen decent success, showing in five film festivals already with two on the way.

He puts a spin on the film and connects Native Americans to Jews. He comes to the conclusion that since the white man has illegally taken land that belonged to Native Americans, they should get paid a sort of rent.

“It’s a campaign; the lead component is the film, and it has surroundings,” Halberstadt said.

His documentary parallels the way Jewish people were stripped of their land by the Nazis with the way Europeans took America from Native Americans. To develop his idea further, he makes the connection with the way Jews and Native Americans use their homelands and how they view where they call home.

“Native Americans … use the land as part of their religion,” Halberstadt said. “They are assigned that land by a creator. Jews believe they are assigned Israel by God.”

With that, he developed the idea for his film. Because Europeans took the land that rightfully belonged to Native Americans, we are essentially using stolen property to create things from the land.

“Everything was stolen, even the paper in our Bibles,” Halberstadt said. “Once we … realize it is Native American lands, my idea is to pay Native Americans rent.”

His hopes for the film are that those who watch it come to the realization that the land we are profiting on is in fact not ours. More information about the film can be found at cowjewsandindians.com.

It is Halberstadt’s first feature-length film, but he has also created a documentary about meditation and a comedy about how to meet strangers in a movie theatre. The comedy is a film of a new breed, in which he asks watchers to go into the lobby to meet people for two hours in the middle of the movie.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh