Reboot Ideas Conversations

Reboot Ideas Presents: The Survivor

April 27, 2022

Reboot is honored to be partnering with USC Shoah Foundation in hosting a conversation with an inside look at the powerful HBO film The Survivor. The film’s award-winning director Barry Levinson, lead actor Ben Foster who portrays the life story of Harry Haft, a boxer and Auschwitz survivor, with the film’s producer Matti Leshem, dig into the conflicts of survival, PTSD, generational trauma and the idiosyncrasies and humanity within every survivor’s story. The conversation, moderated by Sami Sage, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and co-founder of Betches Media can be watched on Reboot’s YouTube channel.

Levinson’s The Survivor (from New Mandate Films and BRON Studios, in association with Baltimore Pictures, Endeavor Content, USC Shoah Foundation and Creative Wealth Media) tells the true story of Jewish boxer Harry Haft, played by Ben Foster, who, after being sent to Auschwitz, must test the limits of his moral and physical strength to survive a gladiatorial boxing spectacle staged between prisoners for the amusement of his captors. Levinson delivers a portrait of a man adjusting to Holocaust survival and haunting PTSD that ripples through his loved ones and subsequent generations. 

USC Shoah Foundation provided detailed historical consultation in addition to access to the testimony of Auschwitz Survivor Harry Haft, on whom the film is based. Haft’s testimony was recorded in 1995 and is preserved within USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive. Watch the trailer for The Survivor here and watch the movie on HBO and HBO Max.

Download “The Survivor” Educational Toolkit

In addition to the conversation, Reboot and USC Shoah Foundation have collaborated with the team behind The Survivor to create a conversation kit with reflection prompts and activities to help the audience tackle difficult questions around the Holocaust, generational trauma and PTSD. 


Barry Levinson is an Academy Award©-winning director, screenwriter and producer who was awarded the 1988 Best Director Oscar for the multiple Academy Award©-winning “Rain Man,” starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise.  In 1991, “Bugsy,” directed and produced by Levinson, was nominated for ten Academy Awards® including Best Picture and Best Director.  As a screenwriter, Levinson has received three Oscar nominations for “And Justice for All,” “Diner” and “Avalon.”

More recently, Levinson executive produced and directed the HBO Films, “Paterno,” “The Wizard of Lies,” and “You Don’t Know Jack,” which received a combined 21 Emmy® nominations, including Outstanding Made for Television Movie and Best Director. Other iconic films include “The Natural,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” “Wag the Dog” and “Sleepers.” In 1998 Levinson became one of Variety’s “Billion Dollar Directors,” as well as ShoWest’s “Director of the Year.” Levinson premiered his most recent film, “The Survivor”, written by Justine Juel Gillmer, at TIFF 2021, which he produced and directed.  He also directed and produced Danny Strong’s limited series, “Dopesick,” for Hulu, which premiered fall of 2021.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Levinson has used his hometown as the setting for four widely praised features: Diner; Tin Men; Avalon; and Liberty Heights. Levinson also returned to his home town to film the television series “Homicide: Life on the Street.” His work on this critically acclaimed drama earned him an Emmy® for Best Individual Director of a Drama Series, along with a Peabody Award.

Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, under the banner of the Levinson/Fontana Company, also executive produced the groundbreaking HBO television series, “Oz,” which aired for six seasons from 1998 through 2003. Levinson now produces films through his production company Baltimore Pictures, including critically acclaimed releases such as “Quiz Show,” “Donnie Brasco,” and “Bandits.” In 2010, Levinson was the recipient of the WGA’s Laurel Award for Screen, honoring a lifetime achievement in outstanding writing for motion pictures.

Ben Foster is an Award-Winning Actor of film and stage who will next be seen starring in Barry Levinson’s “The Survivor,” airing on HBO on April 27th.  In 2018, he starred in acclaimed film “Leave No Trace” for which he was nominated for a Gotham Award and London Critics Circle Film Award. In 2016, Foster starred opposite Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges in Academy nominated film  “Hell or High Water.” He won a Film Independent Spirit Award and was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award. 

Later this year, he will be seen in Netflix’s “Hustle” opposite Adam Sandler and “Medieval” directed by Petr Jakl. He currently stars in “The Contractor” opposite Chris Pine.  Additional film and television credits include “Galveston,” “Hostiles,” “Inferno,” “The Finest Hours,” “The Program,” “Lone Survivor,” “Kill Your Darlings,” “Contraband,” “Rampart,” “The Messenger,” “3:10 to Yuma”, “Alpha Dog,” HBO’s “Six Feed Under,” and “Bang Bang You’re Dead,” among others.  

Matti Leshem is the founder of New Mandate Films, a film and television production company that mines the rich depth of Jewish literature and storytelling from the Bible to modern-day Israeli literature. New Mandate’s first feature film, “The Survivor,”  directed by Barry Levinson and starring Ben Foster, debuts on HBO on April 27th, 2022.

Samantha Sage is Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of Betches Media, a multi-platform media company for millennial women. Samantha was named to the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 list and the New York Times bestseller list; has spoken at events such as Create & Cultivate and AdWeek, and has interviewed notable figures such as Katie Couric, Mindy Kaling, Olivia Wilde, and Barbara Corcoran. Samantha holds a degree from Cornell University where she studied at the School of Industrial & Labor Relations.


Reboot logoReboot is an arts and culture non-profit that reimagines and reinforces Jewish thought and traditions. As a premier research and development platform for the Jewish world, we catalyze our Reboot Network of preeminent creators, artists, entrepreneurs and activists to produce experiences and products that evolve the Jewish conversation and transform society.

USC Shoah Foundation’s mission is to develop empathy, understanding and respect through testimony. Founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, USC Shoah Foundation began as a project to preserve the stories of survivors of and witnesses to the Holocaust. Today USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive is the world’s largest archive of oral testimony on genocide, housing 55,000 testimonies conducted in 65 countries and 43 languages. USC Shoah Foundation is also a global leader in Holocaust education, reaching millions of learners around the world each year. For more information, visit

Photograph by Leo Pinter/HBO
Photograph by Leo Pinter/HBO
Photograph by Jessica Kourkounis/HBO
Photograph by Jessica Kourkounis/HBO
Photograph by Leo Pinter/HBO
Photograph by Leo Pinter/HBO
Photograph by Jessica Kourkounis/HBO
Photograph by Jessica Kourkounis/HBO