Success has been abundant for Christopher G. Cowen ’94, who studied theater and English at OWU and quickly delved into the film industry after graduation.
He has gone from researcher and production assistant on the Ron Howard film Apollo 13 to winning an Emmy for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special for his production of the film Gettysburg for the History Channel in 2011.
This weekend, Cowen is screening his latest film, Article of Hope, at the 8th Annual Columbus Jewish Film Festival. The film will show at 1:30 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 11) at the Drexel Theater. A question-and-answer session with the film’s director, Dan Cohen, will follow the screening.
Article of Hope is an inspiring film about the human spirit, of overcoming adversity, and achieving the dreams you set out to accomplish. It tells the story of Israeli national hero Col. Ilan Ramon, who was an astronaut on the spaceship Columbia, which broke up as it was returning from an earth orbit on Feb. 1, 2003. Ramon was Israel’s first astronaut and had carried a tiny Torah scroll into space with him as a reminder of the ongoing history of the Jewish people.
“What astonished me was to learn Ilan Ramon’s parents were survivors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and that his mission aboard Columbia was seen as a mission of hope for all the people of Israel,” Cowen says. “It was a mission that showcased that the human spirit can transcend the depths of hell, and reach for the heights of space.”
The subject of outer space has “always been a subject that fascinates me,” Cowen says. It was while working on the movie Apollo 13 that Cowen met actor and producer Tom Hanks. Several years later, Cowen worked with Hanks on the landmark HBO mini-series From the Earth to the Moon. Shortly thereafter, Cowen was invited to work with Hanks at his company, Playtone, as a development executive. He was at Playtone for eight years, working on the films, Band of Brothers, The Polar Express, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Cowen co-wrote the Imax film, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D, with Hanks and served as the film’s associated producer. After the success of that film, Cowen left Playtone to start a television division at the highly accomplished motion picture marketing company Herzog & Company, where he has served for the last six years as vice president of original programming. He received seven Emmy nominations for the film Gettysburg, which he produced, and won an Emmy for outstanding non-fiction film.
Most recently, he produced the HBO series, On Freddie Roach, and the web series Halo: Forward unto Dawn. His next project, which he produced, is Killing Lincoln, which will air on the National Geographic channel in February 2013. It was executive produced by Ridley Scott & Tony Scott, and is narrated by Tom Hanks.
As for his film screening this weekend in Columbus, Cowen says, “I hope people walk away from the film with a better understanding of the sacrifices made by the men and women of NASA who served our country by traveling into the Heavens in search answers, and that through telling their stories we have a better understanding of the human spirit.”
Tickets for Article of Hope are $10 at the door, or $8 in advance for students and seniors or $10 for non-members of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus. The film will air on PBS on Jan. 31, 2013, the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Columbia disaster. Please check your local PBS listing for the correct time.