Documentary Chronicles ‘Troll Storm’ Targeting Whitefish Family

Director’s Statement:


“This story came to me after my documentary ACCEPT THE CALL premiered on PBS Independent Lens and soon after, a viewer emailed me that I should look into the story of Tanya Gersh. It was not initially clear to me why he believed that my film, centered on a Muslim family impacted by Islamophobia in Minnesota, was connected to a Jewish family impacted by antisemitism in Montana. As I dug into the research, however, a glaring truth came to light: antisemitism and Islamophobia are not only entangled but deeply rooted in the same systems of white supremacy and Christian hegemony.

Both Tanya Gersh and Zacharia Abdurahman had fallen victim to the system of white nationalism. While anti-Muslim bias and bigotry were unleashed and fueled by George Bush’s “War on Terror”, it was the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Donald Trump that emboldened a surge in hate speech and hate crimes, and again normalized antisemitism in mainstream America.

By bringing the historical narrative of Holocaust survivor Stephen Jacobs into Tanya’s story, we hope to place her story within the context of a larger canvas. History is not simply the study of the past, but also an explanation of the present, and can serve as a forecast to trending events. The parallels between 1930s Germany and present-day America are alarmingly similar and equally terrifying.

The team behind TROLL STORM is mostly BIPOC filmmakers. Collectively, we have inherited a long history of oppression and discrimination, as well as stories of resistance. As artists, our tool to forge change is storytelling. Such as the story of this courageous mother who fought back against the all-powerful white supremacists and provided a new narrative that makes her victory a rallying cry for a united movement against hate. These stories transcend class, race, and ethnicity, and inspire us to recognize our common interest in the collective liberation for all people, and in the struggle to end white supremacy – and all related systems of oppression.”

Film Characters:


Her ancestors fled Russia during the pogroms and her Brooklyn-born parents were part of the anti-war and civil rights movement, but she is a self-described apolitical soccer mom who becomes the target of an antisemitic campaign after she agrees to help the mother of notorious alt-right leader Richard Spencer. When the Spencers turn on her, accusing her of extortion, it prompts a neo-Nazi website to launch a “troll storm”. Overnight, she receives an avalanche of death threats. Despite the trauma, she decided to fight back and filed a lawsuit against her detractors.


Born in Poland, Stephen was only five when he and his family were sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. After surviving the Holocaust, they immigrated to the U.S. in 1948. He went on to become a renowned architect in New York, modernizing the city’s landscape with his signature modular designs. In 2002, he returned to Germany to create a memorial at Buchenwald’s former site, and before his death, he also designed a memorial in Tirana to commemorate the Albanians who saved Jews during World War II.


As the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s anti-hate and extremism litigation division, David was the lead counsel representing Tanya in the lawsuit against the neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer, and its founder Andrew Anglin. He created the legal strategy that led to victory in a landmark judgment that ruled the First Amendment does not protect hate crimes or online terror campaigns. David also provided Tanya with much emotional support during the arduous two-year legal battle. He is now teaching at Yale Law School.

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Troll Storm – Trailer.
Contact 7th Art for the screener to preview the film!

A successful realtor and soccer mom’s life is turned upside down when neo-Nazis unleash a troll storm against her and her family. In the face of an alarming growth of American fascism, she finds solidarity with her community by standing up, fighting back, and ultimately filing a landmark case for the First Amendment, setting a precedent that could shape America’s future.

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