Watch Uncle Chatzkel now at Vimeo On Demand.

The Story

A personal documentary about Rod Freedman’s 93 year old great uncle in Lithuania, UNCLE CHATZKEL portrays the patient triumph of one man’s dignity and intellect over genocide, oppression and personal tragedy.

Produced, written and directed by Rod Freedman.

Screened in over 50 international film festivals, nominated for two AFI awards and winner of many international awards, including:

NY Independent Film & Video Festival – BEST DIRECTOR International Documentary, Washington Jewish Film Festival – AUDIENCE AWARD, Sichuan TV Festival – FINALIST, Shanghai Television Festival – FINALIST, Columbus International Film & Video Festival – HONOURABLE MENTION, LA International Film & Video Festival – BEST DOCUMENTARY, New York Festivals –  FINALIST, Sydney Film Festival Dendy Awards –  HIGHLY COMMENDED



Uncle Chatzkel explores the life story of a remarkable man, and his reunion with his nephew Rod, a South African born Australian living with his extended family in Sydney. Rod is both the film-maker and Chatzkel’s nephew.

Chatzkel Lemchen has lived through the Russian Revolution, two World Wars, a Communist regime, and the transition of Lithuania from Soviet Republic to an independent state. During the Holocaust, Chatzkel’s parents and children were killed by Nazis and their Lithuanian supporters. He and his wife Lena were then sent to separate concentration camps in Germany.

Unlike many other Jews who were not Communists, Chatz-kel and his wife, both Holocaust survivors, chose to remain in Eastern Europe after the Second World War, despite the loss of their children and other members of their families. Following the death of his wife in 1979, Chatzkel was left in Europe without any close family.

Chatzkel survived the Holocaust through his skills as a linguist and lexicog-rapher. His dictionaries helped preserve the Lithuanian language during the Soviet era. Still working at the age of ninety-three, he is now regarded as a national treasure.

In spite of Chatzkel’s success, he is a lonely man. One of seven siblings, Chatzkel was the only member of his family to remain in Lithuania. In the film, members of his Australian family meet their uncle in his home. Together, they explore their family’s roots and histori-cal experiences that had a profound impact on millions of others as well.

The film explores the history of Europe’s Lithuanian Jewish community. We are confronted with the ghosts of previously vibrant communities whose roots stretched back over 700 years, but who were devastated by genocidal policies during the Nazi domination of the area.

The film is more than the reunion of Uncle Chatzkel and his extended Australian family. It uses the backdrop of history to explain how the events that shaped European society directly impacted on his family’s destiny.



Change Focus Media was established in Balmain, Sydney in 1997 by partners Lesley Seebold and Rod Freedman. We produce documentaries, corporate, educational and promotional videos. Our clients come from the spectrum of government, corporate, community and private sectors.

Our corporate productions are designed to engage their audiences and satisfy our clients.
Our documentaries have won international awards and screened in film festivals all over the world.

Whether for distribution on DVD, TV, website or streaming, Change Focus Media will help you create a
strong and engaging video communication. Contact us to discuss your next project.


ABC Television
Adult Migrant English Service
Adult Migrant English Program, Macquarie University
Alzheimers Australia
Australian Early Childhood Association
Australian Liquor & Hospitality Group
Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health
Australian Dental Association
Benevolent Society Post Adoption Resource Centre
Beyond International
Career Channel
Department of Health and Ageing
Department of Veterans Affairs
Disability Services
EndoActive Australia & NZ
Family Advocacy
Film Australia
Fujitsu Australia
Health Support Services
Health Workforce Australia
Huhtamaki Worldwide Packaging
Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University

Interactive Business Presentations
Jewish Communal Appeal
Lady Gowrie Child Centre
Mia Mia Child & Family Study Centre
Maritime Union of Australia
Moriah College
Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House
Macquarie University National Centre for English Language Teaching & Research
Macquarie University School of Business and Finance
NSW Adult Migrant English Service
NSW Attorney General’s Department
Rural Health Education Foundation
SBS Television
Sydney Jewish Museum
Sydney University Physics Foundation
University of NSW School of Public & Community Medicine
University of NSW Office of Business & Technology
University of Technology, Sydney School of Mathematical Sciences
Voiceless – The Fund For Animals
Westlake Family Support Service
2010 Association – Gay and Lesbian Youth


Change Focus Media produces documentaries, corporate, educational and promotional videos. Whether for distribution on DVD, television, website or streaming, Change Focus Media will help you create a strong and engaging video communication.


PO Box 240 Balmain New South Wales 2041 AUSTRALIA

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