TIGER WITHIN Academy Awards Campaign

TIGER WITHIN is an ultra low budget indie film that needs an Oscar to get the wide distribution and recognition it deserves, to spread its healing message of hope, love and forgiveness to our divided world.

The Campaign is for the PR and Marketing costs to entice the 8500 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture and Sciences take notice, and for the film to stand out from all the big budget Hollywood movies that will be promoting their films in the Academy Award race.

The film is up for consideration in several categories, including Best Picture,  Actor,  Actress, categories. It has also been entered into the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and the Spirit Awards.

We are the underdog in this race and invite you to partake in our journey! Let's make it happen!

Each donation of $25 or more will entitle you to a link to watch the film online after January 9th, 2021 when the Laemmle Virtual Cinema exclusive run ends.

If you want to watch the film now you can still see it on: Laemmle Virtual Cinema 



By Jacob Sahms

Casey (Margot Josefsohn) has anger issues, ones she can’t quite explain because she’s looking at her fourteen years up close. When she finally runs away from the school where she’s misunderstood and the home where her mother’s boyfriend makes her persona non grata, she runs headfirst into the arms of Holocaust survivor Samuel (Ed Asner). She’s working the streets to get by as a homeless teen, while he’s longing for someone to love – to create a family with – and then, suddenly, life throws them together.

Tiger Within, from screenwriter Gina Wendkos (The Princess Diaries, Coyote Ugly) and Sundance-winning director Rafal Zielinski, burns slowly, stalking the audience with Casey’s roughness and Samuel’s grace. She doesn’t believe in the Holocaust; he lost everything because of it. She cusses and hits and screams; he’s patient, calm, and forgiving. They are an odd couple, but one that provides a necessary reminder of what family looks like in the midst of a broken world.

Casey doesn’t fit in, and she does everything she can to accentuate that as the film opens. She’s tattooed curse words on herself; she has a swastika on her jacket that doesn’t mean what she thinks it means. She knows her mom isn’t who she needs her to be, and she challenges the violent expectations (off screen) that exist between her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. She’s smart and oblivious; she’s fourteen! But when she makes the decision to go on the run, she explores options for friendship and family that don’t pan out. She embodies every kid, every person, who felt like they didn’t fit in – who felt like their family turned their back on them.

Samuel is the savior she didn’t know she needed.

Opposite Casey, Asner’s Samuel is serene, uncomplicated, quiet. He’s lost everything and lives in isolation. He values prayer, the synagogue, the possibility of saving a broken thing to make his own soul well. Samuel could be the Biblical Job, but he’s also Eli in the temple realizing that his lifelong end is to pass on his lessons learned to someone else (the young boy Samuel transposed for Casey here). Samuel shows Casey that she’s beautiful, powerful, and beloved. He shows her the tiger within, and in an artistically-communicated way, Zielinski blends animation and reality together to show us how Casey releases that Tiger.

The understanding of one’s place in the world, to care for one another, to make something new out of so much pain – this is such a lesson for 2020. People look around and see the state of things, and sit in sackcloth and ashes, instead of offering a hand up to each other. Instead of moving forward, finding a way forward together, too often, we scratch and claw. That’s the life Casey is destined for, condemned maybe by her mother’s choices. But Samuel provides her salvation, redemption, a hereafter, and in her taking his hand, she provides him the same.

It’s beauty, beauty from ashes.

THE DOVE.COM - December 14, 2020 



The unlikely friendship between Samuel, an elderly, lonely Holocaust survivor and Casey, an angry 14-year-old runaway sex worker with a bad attitude and a swastika on her leather jacket, is the premise of “Tiger Within,” a redemptive story about the power of forgiveness and unconditional love to transform lives and overcome ignorance, fear and hate.

Ed Asner and newcomer Margot Josefsohn star in the absorbing drama, which was directed by Rafal Zielinski (“Fun,” “Ginger Ale Afternoon”) and written by Gina Wendkos (“The Princess Diaries,” and “Coyote Ugly”).

“We tried to make this movie for many years but it kept falling apart,” Zielinski told the Journal. He first read Wendkos’ script some 30 years ago and was touched by the story’s themes of love and compassion. Observing an elderly Jewish man visiting a grave at a cemetery was the catalyst for the idea. “There’s so much anger and darkness in this world that we need more messages like this. It touched me deeply,” he said.

“Anti-Semitism is so strong these days and getting worse,” Zielinski continued. “It’s so sad and tragic. The youth of today is so clueless about the Holocaust and there’s so much Holocaust denial. The racial divide exists all over the world. I feel that the film resonates on a bigger scale. The story could take place anywhere, and I feel that it will touch people from all around the world.”

Over the years, the film was variously supposed to star Jerry Lewis, Kirk Douglas, and Martin Landau.  Ultimately, through a neighbor who was making a movie with Asner, Zielinski got the actor’s number and brought him the script. “The next day he called to say he loved it and would play the role,” the director noted.

Shot in the summer of 2018, the film takes place on the streets of Hollywood and around the city and was in post-production for the last two years. Zielinski faced many challenges in getting it made. Asner, now 91, “Has a very sharp mind, but he could barely walk,” Zielinski said. By the end of a day shooting on the streets, “He was very tired and could not remember one line. We shot one line at a time and cobbled it together.”

Casting Casey posed different problems. Zielinski insisted on choosing a girl of the right age, but faced resistance because Josefsohn was so inexperienced. “She had never done anything before,” he said. While accompanying his son to an audition, he spotted Josefsohn and her mother in the waiting room and captivated by her “piercing eyes,” he introduced himself and gave them the script, “not even knowing if she could act. But she came in to audition and became the character.”

When he brought her to Ed’s house to have them read scenes together while videotaping them, he knew he’d made the right choice, even though using her meant extending the shoot and increasing the budget. “You can only shoot for five hours with kids that age, but I believe in authenticity. I wanted to use the real thing, and I fought hard for her,” Zielinski said. Per child labor laws, Josefsohn was body-doubled and not on the set when any sexual activity was implied

Zielinski’s initial budget was a meager $100,000, which became $250,000 by the time the film was finished, but he’s accustomed to working on a shoestring. “I come from a documentary background, I studied with Richard Leacock who used low budget techniques and worked with a tiny crew, and in my youth, I made a bunch of movies for Roger Corman. I learned how to make something beautiful and magical from nothing,” he said.

“Sometimes it was difficult to get permits for the crew and we had to shoot with a tiny pocket camera. We’d shoot a scene that normally took two hours in 15 minutes. When you shoot hand-held, you’re much more mobile.”

Zielinski has wanted to make films since his father gave him a camera when he was seven. Of Polish descent and born in Canada, he spent his youth traveling around the world while his father worked for the Ford Foundation. Always the new kid at school, he hid his awkwardness behind the camera but later realized he wanted a more collaborative experience and pivoted into filmmaking, graduating from MIT with a degree in Art and Design with a concentration in documentary film. “It’s one big family when you make movies,” he said.

For the future, Zielinski has “a whole suitcase of dream projects I would love to make but I’m worried because I’m getting older. They’re grand scale projects and I hope I get a chance to make them,” he said. Topping the list are a futuristic film about the war between men and women and another based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead and reincarnation. He’s a Buddhist, but his mother has Jewish roots and he identifies as a Member of the Tribe as well.

He hopes to show “Tiger Within” in schools and to youth groups “to teach kids about the Holocaust so something like it will never happen again, which was Wenkos’ intention when she wrote it, he said.

He also hopes a bigger distributor will pick the film up after the virtual release on Dec. 18, and help with award season campaigns to “spread the message as much as possible. I hope the film has an illuminating effect. Forgiveness has a tremendous healing power on people. I don’t want to suggest that we forgive the Holocaust, but forgiveness and love will change the world.”

“Tiger Within” begins streaming at Laemmle Virtual Cinema on Dec. 18. Visit Laemmle.com for tickets.

Gerri Miller,  December 16, 2020


Our previous effort on Kickstarter in 2004 did not reach the funding goal - but we made the movie anyway 7 years later, with personal loans. This interview with the writer and myself gives a lot of insight into the project and we thought it would be wonderful to share it with you:



    • $25 
    • 7 mos
  • carole segall
    • $15 
    • 2 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 2 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 3 yrs
    • $25 
    • 3 yrs


Rafal Zielinski
Los Angeles, CA

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily.

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about.

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the  GoFundMe Giving Guarantee.