Advance screening of ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ to benefit the J

Jessica Chastain as Antonina Zabinski in ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife.’  Photo: Anne Marie Fox/Focus Features

In response to the recent bomb threats made against Jewish institutions around the nation, including the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, Focus Features will offer an advance screening of its new film, “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” as a way to bring positive attention and support to the agencies and community centers affected. 

A representative of Focus Features told management at the J that it wanted to use the film, which tells the true story of a working wife and mother who becomes a hero to hundreds during World War II, as a vehicle to acknowledge the good that ordinary people can accomplish to help the vulnerable in the community.

Focus Features and the J will host an advance screening of the film at 7 p.m. Monday, March 27 at Landmark Plaza Frontenac Theatre. 

In the film, husband-and-wife team Antonina (portrayed by two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and Dr. Jan Zabinski, oversee and run the flourishing Warsaw Zoo. After the Zoo is bombed by the Nazis, the Abiskas manage to fight back on their own terms, by hiding over 300 people in the empty animal cages. Recognized by the State of Israel as Righteous Among the the Nations, the Abiskas put themselves in danger to perform these acts of courage, sacrifice, and compassion for total strangers.

“We were so pleased when Focus extended this opportunity — the film’s message is poignant and timely. It recalls the compassion the Jewish community and the J experienced after the threats and vandalism earlier this year,” said Lynn Wittels, President & CEO of the J. “We are appreciative to all who have offered kind words, we would like to thank in advance all who purchase a ticket or make a donation to support the J in this way.”

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Proceeds from the screening will benefit the J’s scholarship fund, which allows economically challenged children and families to participate in the Early Childhood Center, Adult Day Center, J Day Camps and Camp Sabra, Nishmah, swim lessons, membership and other programs the J offers. 

Tickets to the screening of The Zookeeper’s Wife are available online at or by phone: 314-442-3179.