Filmmaker Lynn Roth Revisits History With New Lenses

Happy birthday, Lynn Roth! Today is the perfect day to celebrate this incredible writer and producer. 

Born in New York City in 1952, Lynn has been taking part in the creation of quality films and television series since the seventies. She began as a TV writer. In her first endeavor, she wrote episodes for The Sandy Duncan Show, a sit-com starring film actress and Broadway performer Sandy Duncan as a young, single woman working at an advertising firm. Sandy is loveable, sweet, and committed to her independence despite societal pressures to settle down. 

After writing for several other series and television movies, Lynn worked her way up in the TV world, eventually becoming an executive producer. She was the executive producer for Nine to Five, a television spin-off for the beloved 1980 comedy film. One of the most popular series she produced was The Paper Chase, about the trials and tribulations of a law student, James Hart, who enters the high-pressured world of the stern yet lauded professor Charles Kingsfield. In order to succeed, James forms a study group with an equally competitive and motivated bunch of fellow students. The series went on for four seasons.

Lynn also demonstrated her passion for revisiting history when she co-produced the series A Century of Women, which examines the roles of women in society over the course of a century, starring beloved actresses like Jane Fonda.

In the early 2000s, Lynn began working on feature films of her own. Her debut feature was The Little Traitor, which she wrote and directed. Set in 1947 Palestine, during British colonization of the area, the film follows an unlikely friendship between a young Jewish boy and an English sergeant. As Lynn tends to do, the film examines the British colonization of Palestine from a new, unexpected angle. Though it is many decades later, the message of the film is actually quite pertinent, especially given the place where the film is set: despite opposing governments and violence coming from those in power, citizens under these governments can come together, see each others’ humanity, and connect through kindness and love. 

Lynn’s next feature was Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog (2007) which she wrote, directed, and produced. The film revisits WWII-era Berlin through the eyes of Kaleb, a German Shepherd, beloved by his Jewish family and especially Joshua, their young son. However, upon the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws, Kaleb is taken by an SS officer. 

In an interview with FF2 Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner, Lynn discusses her decision to explore the tragedies of the Holocaust through the experiences of a dog: “Dogs bring out such raw emotions in us that I wanted to try to see how we could feel about the Holocaust – and about the doom that was coming – through an animal’s sensibility.

The result of Shepherd was an incredibly unique perspective, and the depiction of a very particular heartbreak of the Holocaust not yet explored: the separation of pets from their families. Lynn wanted to capture this feeling with as much raw authenticity as possible. As she said in her interview with Jan, “I did not want to have a talking dog. I did not want to have a voiceover. Every dog movie in the last, I don’t know, 15 years has been a talking dog movie. I go. I cry. But I didn’t want this film to be that way. My constant goal was to imagine what Kaleb was thinking and to try to convey that. It was a challenge, but a really creative and interesting assignment. I kept the camera lower all the time so the human characters came down more to the dog’s level. But I didn’t want to do it in an exaggerated way.”

Throughout her career, Lynn has shown a propensity for revisiting history from new and different perspectives. Whether it is a sweet yet headstrong single woman in the seventies, or a loving yet defiant dog in WWII Berlin, count on Lynn to explore the world through fresh eyes. Happy birthday, Lynn!

© Julia Lasker (11/20/2023) FF2 Media

LEARN MORE/DO MORE

Read Jan Lisa Huttner’s interview with Lynn Roth about Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog here.

Watch Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog here.

Watch The Little Traitor here.

CREDITS & PERMISSIONS

Featured photo: Alfred Molina as Dunlop and Ido Port as Avi Leibowitz in the film THE LITTLE TRAITOR (2007). Photo Credit: AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: 2JT8C49

Bottom photo: Lynn Roth attends the opening night of the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival in Beverly Hills, California on May 3, 2019. Photo Credit: WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: TCA9MD

Tags: A Century of Women, female producer, Lynn Roth, Nine to Five, Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog, The Little Traitor, The Paper Chase, The Sandy Duncan Show

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As an associate for FF2 Media, Julia writes reviews and features for films made by women. She is currently a senior at Barnard College studying Psychology. Outside of FF2, her interests include acting, creative writing, thrift shopping, crafting, and making and eating baked goods. Julia has been at FF2 for almost 4 years, and loves the company and its mission dearly.
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