After a long career with WQPT-PBS, Lora Adams has finally won her first regional Emmy Award.
At the 47th-annual Mid-America Emmy ceremony in Branson, Mo., Adams won the 2023 best historical documentary trophy for “Snapshots: Your Dutch Friend,” a 14-minute film of how two young sisters — Juanita and Betty Wagner of Danville, Iowa — became pen pals with Anne Frank and her sister Margo, just as Amsterdam was occupied by Nazi Germany on May 10, 1940.
Adams (the longtime director of local content for WQPT, who retired this past summer and remains as a consultant) has earned three regional Emmy nominations – for “Letters Home to Hero Street” (a co-production with Moline-based Fourth Wall Films) and this year for two Snapshots episodes – “Norma Jean the Elephant” and “Your Dutch Friend.”
“My reaction? Sort of a blackout. I certainly didn’t expect it,” she said Monday morning by email. “I only realized they called my name when Tammy and Kelly Rundle (Fourth Wall Films) and Kevin Kelley and Marie Wilkes (New Mile Media Arts) reacted. I was able to have WQPT air their documentaries because they create great films telling important Midwestern stories.
“All of us at our table were nominated so we had a built-in cheering section for one another. I can only say it’s surreal,” Adams said. “Surreal in a good way, but surreal. Tammy Rundle has been freakishly insistent since we were nominated that I would win something.”
The Rundles were also nominated in the same documentary category for their “An Infantryman From Hero Street,” among five nominees total.
WQPT is proud to have been the station to air other local documentaries that have been nominated as well, a station release said Monday afternoon., Once WQPT has aired a film, the filmmaker then has the opportunity to place that film for Emmy consideration.
In addition to WQPT, this year Fourth Wall Films (four-time Emmy winners with two nominations this year) and New Mile Media Arts, also received Emmy nominations.
In addition to this year’s winning documentary, WQPT also received a nomination for their locally written and produced documentary Snapshots: Norma Jean, the Elephant, also written and produced by Lora Adams-Kopriva, with editing and writing by Chris Ryder.
“I’m thrilled to see Lora and Chris recognized for their exceptional talent,” said Dawn Schmitt, WQPT’s general manager. “Congratulations to them for this well-deserved recognition of telling the stories of our region.”
Adams said she almost didn’t go to the Saturday night event because she was battling long-haul COVID, but her husband Michael asked as they were driving home, “Are you glad you went now?”
“I think I’m glad he talked me into going,” she said.
“It’s important to acknowledge my editor/videographer, Chris Ryder,” Adams said. “He is who brought the story to my attention. He and I created this together. This doesn’t happen without him.”
“Snapshots: Your Dutch Friend” was written and produced by Lora Adams-Kopriva, with video, editing and writing by Chris Ryder.
The World War II-era letters that united these four young girls (the Wagner sisters and Frank sisters) are now owned and displayed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. The Danville Station Museum (in Danville, Iowa, 90 miles south of Davenport) is the only remote location where the Wiesenthal Center allows copies of the letters to be displayed.
At the time, Juanita and Anne were 10 years old, while Betty and Margot were 14.
After hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam annex, the Franks were betrayed and, on Aug. 4, 1944, the Gestapo arrested the annex residents. The Franks were transported by rail to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Two months later, Anne and Margot were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.
15-year-old Anne died in Bergen-Belsen in February 1945, after contracting typhus, and that Margot also died there that month, around her 19th birthday. Their father Otto survived Auschwitz, but his wife Edith died in January, likely of starvation.
In 1988, the Wagner letters were sold for $165,000 to an anonymous buyer who donated them to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Reproductions are displayed at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The originals are kept in a bank vault.