Smile Little Ladybug
SMILE LITTLE LADYBUG follows three generations of a wacky and inspiring family from Nazi Germany, to Jim Crow Alabama, to Atlanta today. By supporting this film, you will help us preserve the history of a Survivor, showing how his legacy continues to inspire positive change.
Mission StatementThis story is an open invitation to put on your heart-shaped glasses and make the world a better place.
About The Project
SMILE LITTLE LADYBUG is a short documentary that intertwines the narratives of three generations, exploring how one man’s legacy as a Holocaust survivor influenced his daughter and granddaughter to become clowns.
In 1940, after narrowly escaping Nazi Germany, 14-year-old Herbert Kohn, and his family arrived in their new home: Demopolis, Alabama. Though they had never stepped foot on a farm, their sponsors advised them to start a dairy business. Today, eighty years later, Herbert’s descendants still live in the South. His granddaughter is Andrea Zoppo, a clown and childhood educator. She incorporates the spirit of Tikkun Olam, the Jewish philosophy of repairing the world, that she learned from her grandfather at an early age.
Known by her adoring fans as Miss Ladybug, Andrea wasn’t always such a natural in front of a crowd. Her mom Barbara was the entertainer and performed around town as “Classy the Clown,” with Andrea in tow as her reluctant assistant. Unlike Miss Ladybug, Classy is the quintessential clown—enormous shoes, bulbous red nose, face paint, and her trademark blue wig.
As Miss Ladybug and Classy each come to terms with their respective paths to clowning, Herbert’s story of fleeing Germany leads to his own realization. He recalls the alarming similarities between the discrimination he faced as a Jew in Nazi Germany and the blatant racism he witnessed upon arrival in the Jim Crow South. In seeing these injustices, Herbert decides to dedicate his life to helping the oppressed, paying forward the kindness his family received from their sponsors in getting to America.
SMILE LITTLE LADYBUG documents how Herbert’s legacy thrives through Andrea’s devotion to teaching children to appreciate the earth and each other. Today, as we collectively face the realities of systemic racism and anti-Semitism in the US, this story asks audiences how the lessons of the Holocaust can guide us to a more inclusive and loving future for all humanity.
As friends, co-conspirators, and neighbors of Miss Ladybug, our small team is the one to make this film! Laura (director) and Michele (producer) first met Miss Ladybug in 2017 at a community garden in Atlanta. For two years, we planned the film, and after receiving a grant from the Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs in late 2019, we finally jumped in.
SMILE LITTLE LADYBUG isn't a typical Holocaust story because it captures the legacy of a survivor through two unique lenses: Tikkun Olam and clowning. Our film examines how the lessons of the Holocaust are as relevant now as they were when Herbert emigrated to the United States in 1940. Today, we believe in the project more than ever, and with your help, we can bring this story to light.
The funds that we raise through this campaign will go directly to paying for post-production; this includes paying our editor, Atlanta-native, Ace McColl, composer Kristina James, and a sound designer, colorist, and GFX person. A portion of the money will go directly to Miss Ladybug, who is underway in designing a four-part curriculum to accompany the film in middle school classrooms.
Follow our campaign updates to see when and where SMILE LITTLE LADYBUG will be available next year. We plan to submit to film festivals and public television networks and will share the film in Southeastern public schools through our partnership with the Kennesaw State Museum of History and Holocaust Education.
-Laura, Michele, and Sarah
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About This Team
Laura Asherman - Director
Laura Asherman is a documentary filmmaker and sculptor based in the South. Even as a kid, she loved working with film and clay —from shooting videos with the family camcorder to molding funky figurative sculptures. Her first job at a TV station in her hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts set her on the path to a career in documentary art.
Laura is driven by an endless curiosity about the human condition. Guided by the principle that connecting people with meaningful human stories ignites social change, Laura uses documentary as a tool for activism. Through her production company, Forage Films, Laura’s documentary work has been featured on VICE, HBO, and CNN. She has directed the award-winning films American Hasi (2019), The Home Team (2019), and Power Lines (2018).
Michele Lombardi - Producer
Michele Lombardi is an Atlanta-based film producer and the owner of Ultra Fuchsia Films. Michele started her filmmaking journey in the horror genre. Her first feature film, Science Team (2013), play 18+ festivals spanning 6 different countries. The Dread Central label, Epic Pictures, released her second feature Assassinaut in 2019. Over the last few years, Michele has focused on her passion for creating documentaries that explore the intersection of technology, society, and science.
Outside of independent productions, Michele has worked as a producer for NBC Universal, a location manager for Sony PlayStation, and a production coordinator for VH1. When she’s not working on her next big project, you can find her organizing community art events and dishing out home-cooked meals to her neighbors.
Sarah Cohen - Executive Producer
Sarah Fanchon Cohen is a producer, educator and facilitator from Chicago, currently based in Los Angeles. Sarah believes in elevating unheard voices and she is the creator of a storytelling-based model that pairs the production of documentary films with community-led workshops, implemented with communities via multiple U.S. Department of State grants in the U.S., Colombia and Zambia.
She combines her passion for media production with a career in educational equity and inclusion. A previous teacher, Instructional Coach and Fulbright grantee, she recently supported Strategy and Innovation at Los Angeles Unified School District as a Policy Fellow. She has also facilitated corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) trainings and teaches graduate-level courses in Special Education.
Ace McColl - Editor
Ace McColl is an editor & filmmaker based in Atlanta, GA. She has worked as an editor on productions for Netflix, Vice Media, and Discovery Channel, and her latest film premiered at the 2020 Atlanta Film Festival. She holds a B.F.A. in Film & TV Production from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and is a member of the IATSE Local 700 Editors Guild.
Kristina James - Composer
Kristina James is a film composer in Southern California who has worked as the lead composer on numerous short films, concert work, a feature-length documentary and placed 4th in the 2020 CAIFF International Film Scoring Competition. Kristina received a film scoring certificate from UCLAx and a Bachelors in Music Composition from San Francisco State University. She stands firm in the purpose to connect, educate and awaken people through the power of music and storytelling.