Fox Searchlight, USC Shoah Foundation partner on Jojo Rabbit education initiative
The Institute for Visual History and Education (USC Shoah Foundation) and Fox Searchlight Pictures today announced a partnership to develop a classroom curriculum tied to Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi’s (Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Love and Thunder) heartfelt World War II anti-hate satire.
Writer-director-producer-actor Waititi brings his signature style of humor and pathos to the film. Jojo Rabbit follows a lonely German boy whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic.
The film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Audience Award, uses humor to explore the power of propaganda and the impact evil ideologies can have on children. Jojo Rabbit demonstrates how individuals can overcome ingrained prejudices and hate—all components USC Shoah Foundation, with a deep history of Holocaust scholarship and developing transformative learning tools, will deploy during the partnership.
“I experienced a certain level of prejudice growing up, so making Jojo Rabbit has been a reminder, especially now, that we need to educate our kids about tolerance and remind ourselves that there’s no place in this world for hate. Children are not born with hate; they are trained to hate,” stated Waititi. “It’s important to keep finding new and inventive ways of telling the horrific story of World War II so that our children can listen, learn, and create a more unified future. I hope the humor in Jojo Rabbit helps engage a new generation.”
USC Shoah Foundation’s Jojo Rabbit education initiative will bring together the powerful anti-hate message of the film with Holocaust survivor testimony from the Institute’s Visual History Archive (VHA). Through a robust suite of resources for educators, classroom-ready activities incorporating clips and content from the film and a dedicated landing page on the Institute’s IWitness website, these educational resources will help students understand the peril of prejudice, antisemitism, and bigotry as well as the power of individual agency and resiliency. The partnership will leverage the historical aspects of the film, such as the power of propaganda and depiction of how the Hitler Youth and Nazi fanaticism brainwashed millions of children in Nazi Germany, to make relevant important lessons of the past to teenagers today.
“We give students the opportunity to explore their own attitudes and learn how to question hate, just as the young boy Jojo ultimately does. The film depicts how easily hate can find a home in the very young, which is still true today and the reason behind our urgent work to develop empathy, understanding, and respect,” stated Stephen D. Smith, Ph.D., Finci-Viterbi executive director of USC Shoah Foundation and UNESCO chair on genocide education.
Claudia Ramirez Wiedeman, Ph.D., USC Shoah Foundation Director of Education added, “Jojo Rabbit is a smart satire that, with the support of an educational program that provides the context and human impact of hate, has the power to extend Holocaust and anti-hate education to the next generation. It’s critically important as educators that we find new and innovative ways to reach young people, and movies have the power to do just that. Pairing content from Jojo Rabbit with survivor testimony will allow the generation that bore witness to the tragedies of the Holocaust to speak to the next, teaching students not much older than JoJo and Elsa from the film about how to confront intolerance and bigotry in society, and inspire the individual agency that can create change in their own communities.”
The film stars Golden Globe-nominated Scarlett Johansson (Avengers: Infinity War), Academy Award winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect), Thomasin McKenzie (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies), Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), Stephen Merchant (Logan) and introducing Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo.
Fox Searchlight Pictures Jojo Rabbit opened in limited release in Los Angeles and New York on Oct. 18 with one of the best openings of the year. The film has since been a hit among both critics and moviegoers having received 2 Golden Globe Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations, and 5 Critics Choice Awards nominations including Best Motion Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Young Actor/Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Comedy.