Surviving Skokie
Graybird and the Surviving Skokie team brought this inspirational film to audiences worldwide.

The Challenge

Eli Adler—a California-based professional cinematographer – started a quest to create his own movie and uncover details of his father, Jack Adler’s, painful past during the Holocaust. Inspired by a Chicago Tribune article and the 2009 opening of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, the award-winning documentary is a ten-year labor of love.

Jack and Eli’s transformational story was the heart of Surviving Skokie, yet funding, marketing and a distribution strategy were needed to ensure success. Graybird partnered in these three critical areas to reach the ultimate goal of making this inspirational and educational story available to the largest possible audience.

Jack Adler
Eli Adler
From day one it was clear that Graybird Foundation was completely committed to a marketing plan that would give Surviving Skokie every chance to make a memorable impact with audiences.”

— Eli Adler, Co-Director, Co-Producer Surviving Skokie

Marketing & Communications Strategy

Everyone has a story to share—Graybird Foundation is privileged to be part of the telling of Surviving Skokie.  Our strategy was to make a name for the documentary during the film festival season. Filling executive producer and marketing roles, the Graybird team conducted speaker training and served as spokespersons to provide context for the film’s mission. We also became trusted advisors for Blair Gershkow and Eli by helping them navigate the process of securing a distribution contract, and managing media relations that procured coverage including KQED, the Chicago Tribune, ABC Windy City Live and the Times of Israel.


The Graybird team created a variety of marketing assets to extend the Surviving Skokie brand. We managed an online competition that received entries from designers in Asia, South America, the U.K. and the United States, with the winning design originating from Kenneth Joel of The Philippines. The movie title graphic, created by Robbin Atherly at Six Foot Two Productions in Marin County, was included in the winning design that inspired postcards, social media, name badges, and VIP appreciation gifts distributed to press and thousands of audience members.

Surviving Skokie Movie Poster
Surviving Skokie Website


Graybird Foundation teamed with StoverPix to refresh the Surviving Skokie website. The basic, original structure was retained and several new modern elements were added, including:

  • Jack Adler page with extensive information about the star of the film
  • Praise section to post comments about the film
  • News/Events section where website visitors can view the calendar and coverage
  • Image gallery from Surviving Skokie festival screenings and events
  • Redesigned DONATE button and contributions page to easily seek contributions


Surviving Skokie was accepted in the March 2016 Chicago Jewish Film Festival, where it screened to sold-out audiences who felt a deep connection to the story. Graybird identified a pivotal opportunity to celebrate and thank the local people interviewed in the documentary who still lived in the Skokie area. We organized and hosted a VIP reception that was held in conjunction with the Surviving Skokie homecoming screening at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.

Surviving Skokie Event
Amanda Cahan
Surviving Skokie is one of those rare films offering hope that the human spirit can survive the darkest moments. It was a delight to work with the Graybird Foundation team who not only promoted their film, but went above and beyond to highlight our festival as a whole.”

— Amanda Cahan, Program Marketing Manager, Chicago Jewish Community Center

Surviving Skokie presents a Holocaust family story in a poignant and personal way, by telling it through the lens of a son, learning about his father’s past and coming to understand its relation to the present.”

— Susan Abrams, CEO of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Susan Abrams

Lasting Results

Jack’s perseverance was passed down to his son, Eli, who took the bold move to champion his father’s story into an award-winning documentary. In addition to winning audience awards at the Mill Valley and Los Angeles Jewish Film Festivals, the Surviving Skokie team secured an agent to broker an international distribution deal. Most importantly the film gained a place of honor in the hearts of all who made this lifelong dream come true.

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