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How to tell your family’s history on film
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How to tell your family’s history on film

Gary Gellman will show documentary on local farming forebears

The Gellman brothers on the family farm, from left, Dave, Nathan, Irvin, Abe, Sid, and Gary’s father, Manny, and Gary Gellman, inset.
The Gellman brothers on the family farm, from left, Dave, Nathan, Irvin, Abe, Sid, and Gary’s father, Manny, and Gary Gellman, inset.

When professional filmmaker Gary Gellman set out to tell his family’s history on celluloid, his motives were mostly personal. But on Sunday, May 15, he will use the 30-minute documentary as a model to help teach others how to create their own movies about their own families.

The showing of Gellman American Dream and the subsequent discussion will take place at the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County in Freehold.

Gellman said his presentation would detail the entire production process and describe how he collected the materials necessary to put together his film from old family movies, photograph albums, and newspaper articles.

Gellman’s family has lived in New Jersey for 110 years, making their mark as Jewish immigrant farmers during the first half of the 20th century. “My grandfather’s farm was on Bergen Mills Road near Route 33 in what is now Millstone, but was still considered Englishtown in those days,” Gellman told NJJN in a phone interview.

There were nine siblings in his father’s generation, Gellman said, and only one is left — his 97-year-old aunt, who still lives in Freehold. “When we began the project, there were two others, including my uncle, Abe Gellman, who instigated it and had, along with my cousin Karin Levy Gellen, written a book called Yesterday,” which is also about the family.

“We recorded interviews with people in their 80s and 90s, incorporated old film reels, photographs, and print media to create this filmed record of our family,” said Gellman. “Our Jewish history came alive as we produced this documentary and uncovered our fascinating past.” 

Gellman, who now lives in Ocean County, is the founder of Gellman Images, a multimedia firm whose work has been featured more than 500 times in newspapers, magazines, and on the radio over the last 27 years. National appearances include CBS’s The Early Show, ABC’s Good Morning Las Vegas, Fox’s Good Day Philadelphia, and News 12’s Daytime Edition

Gellman, who completed his broadcasting and journalism studies at The College of New Jersey, also has spoken at conventions across the country.

The program at the museum is being produced jointly by the museum and Gellman’s company.

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