“When I tell people that a Jewish family once owned Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello, their jaws drop,” says Steven Pressman, the director of this enlightening documentary about a national landmark we think we know. The Levy family, in fact, owned Monticello for 89 years, from 1834 to 1923, longer than the former president and his descendants. Pressman uncovers the amazing story behind how officer Uriah P. Levy, the first Jewish Commodore of the United States Navy, completely restored the Palladian-inspired masterpiece, which was falling apart toward the end of Jefferson’s life. Pressman closes his film with images of the Unite the Right white nationalists marching at nearby University of Virginia, a disturbing reminder that although “we’ve come a long way we are still the outsiders in this country,” he says.
Winner of the Building Bridges Jury Prize at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival 2022.