Eda Zahl was the first woman who ever appeared in a photograph on the cover of The National Geographic Magazine. She was the mother of my best friend Paul Zahl when I was a teenager in Washington, D. C. She was an eccentric, brilliant and opinionated woman.
She was the first adult person, apart from my parents, who ever took me seriously, who took my ambitions seriously. My parents would have taken any of my ambitions seriously, but Eda Zahl took my specific ambitions, to become a filmmaker, seriously. She made me feel that abandoning those ambitions would be disgraceful.
Becoming a filmmaker entailed many years of failure, of poverty, of hopelessness. I was sustained in the journey by my parents’ blind faith, but equally by Eda Zahl’s clear-eyed and demanding faith. She taught me that being true to one’s dreams was not just a private, personal indulgence but a duty.