My Underground Mother

Director and Producer Marisa Fox, Producer Deborah Shaffer
My Underground Mother


Freedom fighter. Femme fatale. Double agent. My mother claimed she had been all three. Many years after her death, a secret diary from a Nazi women’s camp reveals a fourth, leading me on a global investigation to reckon with the harsh truths she took to her grave.

Phase of Support: Post-Production

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Marisa Fox

Marisa Fox - Director, Producer

A veteran journalist, Marisa Fox has covered major news stories, specializing in women, war, trauma, immigration and extremism for The Daily Beast, Elle, CNN, The New York Times, New York, Ms., The Forward and Ha’aretz, where she was a U.S. correspondent. She was a television producer (WNET, VH1 and FX), earned American Society of Magazine Editors awards and nominations, has won pitch competitions, a CUNY humanitarian award for a women’s Holocaust monument she unveiled in Trutnov, Czech Republic, curated a digital exhibit of women’s testimonies with USC’s Shoah Foundation and is a “she source” for Gloria Steinem’s Women’s Media Center. Fox holds a BA in French, BS & MS from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, graduating with a National Journalism Society Award. Fox is a 2022 Jewish Film Institute fellow and received grants by the Claims Conference, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and others for My Underground Mother, her directorial debut.

Deborah Shaffer

Deborah Shaffer - Producer

Guggenheim Fellow and Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Deborah Shaffer directed the NEH-funded The Wobblies (1979), which premiered at the New York Film Festival and was one of 25 titles added to the National Film Registry in 2021. Shaffer founded one of the first women’s film companies (Pandora Films) and has focused on women’s and human rights, from her Academy Award-winning short Witness to War: Dr. Charlie Clements (1984) to the Academy Award-nominated short Asylum (2003) and Ladies First: The Women of Rwanda (Emmy, WNET, 2004). Her most recent film, Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack (2019), premiered at DOC NYC and won the Audience Award and Best Documentary at the Hamptons Documentary Film Festival. As the daughter of a European Jewish refugee, with experience in historic and women’s narratives, she is committed to ensuring My Underground Mother is a vibrant, moving testament to women survivors with contemporary resonance.

Project logline and bios courtesy of the grantees.