Douglas/Steinman ProductionsFilms

My Grandfather’s House

Douglas/Steinman on ABC News“My Grandfather’s House” is a personal documentary which follows Eileen Douglas’s determined search to find her grandfather’s house in Lithuania, the home he lived in and left behind in 1911 when he fled, at 16, from Kovno to America to escape the Tsar’s Army. Four decades after his death, with only fragments to guide the way, the documentary is Douglas’s attempt to lift the veil of darkness and discover “where it all began.”

Traveling from New York City, to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, to her mother’s attic in Syracuse, to the homes of relatives, and, finally, to the block in Kovno, now known as Kaunas, where her grandfather once lived, along the way she unexpectedly unlocks the mystery of stories he never told, discovers the fate of family members lost in the war, learns of the glory that once was Lithuanian Jewry, finds living relatives missing for years in Siberia, and resurrects a family shattered by the traumas of the 20th Century.

Filming My Grandfather’s House The documentary weaves together original footage, old family photographs, archival records, translations of old Yiddish letters, archival film footage, family reminiscences, interviews, conversations and music scored to evoke a vanished era.

The Library of Congress has selected My Grandfather’s House for a rare honor—inclusion in its motion picture division’s permanent collection.

The film is available as a DVD from Cinema Guild.

Cinema Guild may also arrange screenings.

Eileen Douglas and Ron Steinman are available for screening appearances.


Ron and Eileen at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC.
Ron and Eileen at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC.
“Wonderful! The story has such narrative drive that we’re quickly engaged. A wise and heartwarming movie.” ---Jan Lisa Huttner, World Jewish Digest

“This is the most moving, beautifully produced personal memoir of a second generation that I have ever seen.”-Dr. William Shulman, President of the Holocaust Resource Center and Archives.

“I forgot to bring tissues and there was not a dry eye in the house.”- Marlene Bishow, JGS of Greater Washington

“Like so many of us who have been “bitten” by the genealogy bug, Eileen Douglas has asked questions, interviewed family, and searched documents. Unlike most of us, she used her skills as a filmmaker to create a lasting memorial to her grandfather and other ancestors.” --Marlene Bishow, JGS of Great Washington

“While watching the film, it brought me back to conversations I had with my grandparents about life in Europe before the war. It touched my heart and memories of my youth.” --Rhonda Barad, Simon Wiesenthal Center.NYC

“As a genealogist, I was incredibly impressed by Eileen Douglas’s touching and beautiful tribute to her late grandfather. It shows all of us that one’s research can lead to so much more than documentation alone, and teaches us to never give up on our own genealogical quests. A “must see” not only for researchers of Lithuanian-Jewish history, but for ALL researchers, genealogists, or anyone who is curious about their own background.”--
Davida Noyek Handler, President Litvak/SIG

“I eagerly followed every step of Eileen’s “detective” work and I was quite moved by the end. I had no idea there was so much information out there waiting to be uncovered--I was amazed to see the detailed records held in Lithuania. Compared to Eileen, I’m shockingly uninformed about my own similar family history--my grandparents didn’t talk about the old country much more that did Eileen’s grandfather. But I’m newly inspired to debrief my relatives while I still can.” -Gary Kass, University of Missouri Press

“ ‘My Grandfather’s House’ captures the excitement of a heartfelt journey and provides a helpful model for many genealogists who want to revisit their ancestral homes.”—Ken Frieden, Syracuse University Jewish Studies chair

Such a moving experience. I work mostly with record, I am buried in papers and not so often see living people, connections between the deceased and the living behind them. You have done a great job.—Vitalija Gircyte, Kaunas Municipal Archives

“The movie is just beautiful in every way. You did a great job of capturing the whole family history enterprise. I only hope that you’ll write again soon to tell me that it’s going to be on PBS.”—Sallyann Sack, editor of Avotaynu

“Genealogy is like time travel. Our ancestors’ stories, handed down through generations, can lead us to the places that shaped their lives---and ours by extension. In ‘My Grandfather’s House’ Eileen Douglas takes us along on just such a voyage, using her beloved grandfather’s stories as the road map, and we are all richer for the experience.” Pamela Weisberger, Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles

I was very moved. You did what so many of us dream of.—Ann Harris, Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles

“the emotional telling of the story was fantastic. I was in tears.”—JGS LA audience member

“a remarkable and moving family story.” –Judith Roach, Head of Local History and Genealogy, the Library of Congress

I am please that I finally had the opportunity to watch the film. It is really wonderful. You did an amazing job and I am really thrilled that we are showing here at the Book Center. –Nora Gerard, the National Yiddish Book Center

An exceptional documentary for high school classes.—School Library Journal

“truly an enjoyable and inspiring tale. You should be very proud of your efforts. I thank you.” Laurence Morrell, Orlando-JGS

“My Grandfather’s House is an important movie for everybody: Jewish, non-Jewish and of all cultures. This movie brings full circle the journey one goes through to discover and explore his/her roots. I loved how the filmmaker was able to include all of her family, both living and non-living, to get a full sense of who she was. I found the movie to be very compelling and it made me go home after the screening and take a look at old pictures and remind myself from where I have come from.”—Ilene Dackman Alon, Program Director, the Jewish Museum of Maryland

"This film ...excellent, in large part because it does not solely deal with the negative of the Holocaust, but accents the positive as well, the traditions and continuation of the Jewish Diaspora. I was very moved by it (I have viewed it three times so far.) In an otherwise bleak history, it provided me with my roots, while the interviews with the existing family members points towards the future. A life that was continues, through us and through out children. Thank you for that, Eileen!---Richard Shingles, Professor of History, Virginia Tech

FEEDBACK from JGS of Washington DC audience

My name is Alexandra Goldberg. I live in Michigan. In July I participated at the Jewish Genealogical Conference in Las Vegas where I had occasion to watch your documentary “My Grandfather’s House”. It was a very moving experience for me and many in the audience. I saw several people wiping their tears and myself, too. I had a hard time not to burst crying. Thank you for sharing your family history journey with others.

Adored it. A beautiful example of what we could do, research-wise.

The film was uplifting to say the very least. Your tenacity and love for your family will be always with you. I will remember your film as a wonderful experience. Shalom!

Her efforts and energy were fantastic. I hope I can find my grandmother’s house in Kovno.

This is a very moving movie, about a family that seems like my own.

Beautifully put together. A pleasure to watch. It brought tears to my eyes as my family were also from Lithuania.

Thank you for sharing your story and motivating me to do more research.

“I saw it in Chicago and just loved it.” Bobby Jacobs

Quotes from the Documentary Channel Screening in March 2006

“I loved the documentary. Saw it yesterday. My family is from Lithuania and I really appreciated the film. (We are still working on getting this to show in Buffalo early fall.)”—Ferne Mittleman

“If you haven’t yet seen Eileen’s wonderful documentary about her search to find her Kovno roots, do try to find broadcasts in your area. Eileen has the talent to document the “angst” that we experience when looking for the places where our families once lived. All I’ve been able to find so far are matzevot and plowed fields.” –Vivian Kahn, Oakland, Calif.

“Today your documentary has filled my heart, and I am not even Jewish. You have allowed me to witness your personal search and struggle. I thought I was the only one whose heart ached for identity, or foundation. I was wrong. Thank you for filling my heart.” ---Ronald Slater

“Last night I watched “My Grandfather’s House” and I cannot get it out of my mind. It hit so many chords in my life and I cannot thank you enough for this momentous film. It will be shared by my family and I will recommend it for a program of our Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland. I have watched a number of films of this genre,but none came near to the heart and soul (neshama) that you evoked in your film. Again, many thanks for your dedication, research, trip and “shver arbit”!!! With every good wish.” Gerry Adelman Powers Volper