ORGANISED by the Jewish International Film Festival, the Holocaust Film Series sheds further light on the tragedy that befell millions of Jewish lives during World War 2. April Dudgeon has the details on how you can win tickets to see these films.
Following its success over the last two years, the critically acclaimed Holocaust Film Series (HFS), presented by the Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF), returns to Melbourne and Sydney for another season of bold, confronting and emotionally charged screenings in April and May.
A selection of 30 new films from around the world will be on offer, each with universal themes but also deeply personal stories. Feature films and documentaries about the Holocaust tap into the themes of courage, tragedy, identity and hope. Often this in an attempt to make sense of the incomprehensible history and perhaps to understand the current world events.
HFS Festival Director, Tamar Simons, says the themes and films are important to bring to Australian audiences.
“Australia, and in particular Melbourne, had the highest number of Holocaust survivors outside of Israel resettle following the war,” she said.
“So it is particularly important for Melburnians to understand the history and culture of these migrants and their descendants.”
The selection of Holocaust related stories for the 2016 film series comes to you from 15 different countries, illustrating the truly global impact of the event, with each one dedicated to telling accounts of persecution, racism, survival, migration and tales of incredible human resistance.
Acclaimed director Atom Egoyan’s latest feature, Remember, is a story of personal tragedy for the 90-year-old Zev (played by Academy Award-winning actor Christopher Plummer), an Auschwitz survivor. Burdened with memory loss from the onset of dementia, and the recent passing of his beloved wife, he is in a race against time to find personal catharsis and overdue justice.
Zev is encouraged by his fellow Auschwitz survivor, Max (Martin Landau), to embark upon a cross-country mission of revenge and find the former commander responsible for murdering their families, who they now believe to be living somewhere in the country under an assumed identity.
Remember takes you on a journey through small towns in the US and Canada as Zev follows the thorough instructions of his wheel-chair bound friend in search of the mysterious man named Rudy Kolander. The pacing and intensity will keep audiences riveted as they witness, and become a part of, the intricately plotted story of Zev’s self-denial and mourning.
Drawing Against Oblivion (Germany)
This New York Festival Gold Medal winning documentary puts children at the centre of the Holocaust tragedy. Drawing Against Oblivion showcases Austrian artist Michael Bockelmann, as he uses his passion and artistry to capture, in charcoal drawings, the faces and memory of the countless children who perished in the death camps.
By drawing the faces of the innumerable children who were murdered and then disappeared into the archives as statistics, the artist aims to retrieve them from “oblivion”. The documentary follows his journey to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, and then to US to meet those children who escaped from the death camps. This documentary will move you with its humanity as Bockelmann asks, “What happened to the children who lay in the wrong crib?”
A selection of these drawings will also be displayed in the foyer of the Classic Cinema, the Festival’s Melbourne venue, throughout the season.
Hitler’s Mein Kampf: A Dangerous Book (Germany)
On January 1, 2016, the 70-year copyright protection on the infamous text, written by Hitler between 1924-1926 and banned by the Allies at the end of World War Two, expired, meaning that it has entered the public domain on bookshelves right next to Harry Potter.
This documentary examines the provocative publication and circulation of Mein Kampf, which now, 70 years after the death of its author, Adolf Hitler, is freely available, raising the questions of how such a divisive and inflammatory document should be treated.
Pressing questions emerge in the film about this divisive document: why does the book appear so dangerous? Why do Hitler’s thoughts remain so fascinating? In today’s world is it wise to reprint Mein Kampf?
Raising important ideas of book production, editing, distribution and the issue of banned books, this documentary gives vital insight into the politically heated literary history of Mein Kampf, and how Historians seek to answer the key question of the film: is this book still dangerous today?
Summer Solstice (Poland)
The stories of a simple Polish country boy, the daughter of a prosperous local farmer, a young German soldier and a Jewish girl all collide in this powerful and award-winning drama about love, friendship and fate.
Winner of the Best Screenplay award at the Montreal World Film Festival, Summer Solstice is a compelling historical drama and coming-of-age story set in the summer of 1943 in provincial Poland under German occupation. Told through the eyes of two 17-year-old boys who each try to hold on to their dreams while facing the horrors of their time and the uncertainty of their future, the film provides moments of suspense and nuance.
Director Michal Rogalski is not afraid to let viewers draw their own conclusions. With the use of strategic cuts in film sequence and clever use of sound effects, much is left to the imagination.
Summer Solstice tells a difficult story, but does so with grace. Your time watching it will be well spent.
What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy (UK)
“Imagine what it must be like to grow up the child of a mass murderer,” the film begins, before introducing the audience to two men, both born in the fateful year of 1939, allowing you to do more than just imagine.
This tense and riveting documentary follows the story of a Jewish human rights lawyer as he confronts the two sons of high ranking Nazi officials. The sons, Niklas Frank and Horst Van Wachter, bear witness to their father’s actions, guilt and implicitness in the Nazi regime, and both grapple with the cold, hard truth in dramatically different ways; one forgiving and the other detesting.
The documentary delves into the family life of high-ranking SS officials and gives insight into the cultured, enlightened and educated Germany of the 40s. Although simply structured and narrowly focused, the film is a moving reminder of the long lasting and far reaching effects of trauma for all involved, and the difficulty of seeing our loved ones for who they truly are.
It is a troubling and absorbing documentary, offering a sufficiently provocative angle to stand out in the crowd of Holocaust memorials on screen.
To see the above films and more, Meld Magazine is giving you the chance to win three double passes to the Holocaust Film Series. If you’re interested in seeing some courageous and thought-provoking tales of the Holocaust, enter the giveaway below for a chance to win! Competition ends Monday, April 25.
The 2016 Holocaust Film Series will run from April 30 to May 11, with screenings at Classic Cinemas in Elsternwick. For further ticketing information, session times and the full program, visit the official website.