Friday, November 19, 2010

Groundbreaking Lanzmann Epic “Shoah” to be Re-Released in Theaters

To mark the 25th anniversary of the release of French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann’s 9.5 hour documentary, Shoah, it will be shown at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and at the IFC Center in December. Some of you may recall that in 2005, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the film, Claude Lanzmann made a rare New York appearance at the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. We screened Shoah as well as his film Pourquoi Israel? While here he also hosted a very special master class for filmmakers that week.

The movie does not use historical footage, rather it is a compilation of one-on-one interviews not only with Holocaust survivors, but with witnesses and accomplices. During our screening David Marwell said, “We are honored to be the host for the 20th anniversary of this landmark film. Shoah has had a profound impact on the way people look at the Holocaust. Claude Lanzmann opened the door for filmmakers to deal with the Holocaust in a serious and unflinching way.”

Interestingly, a statement is attributed to Mr. Lanzmann on the Arts Beat blog of the New York Times, in which he says: “Museums come to terms with death and institute forgetting as well as memory. On the contrary, ‘Shoah,’ because it is an incarnation, because nothing will ever replace Abraham Bomba’s tears, Filip Müller’s reverberating voice, or the minute-by-minute description of the executions in Treblinka by the Unterscharführer Franz Suchomel or Polish train conductor Henrik Gavkowski, ‘Shoah’ is an absolute barricade, the true wall against oblivion.”

I was chatting with David about this interpretation of museums like ours. David and Claude spent quite a bit of time together during the week of screenings in 2005 so I wasn’t surprised when David said, “While I know that Claude Lanzmann delights in being provocative, his comment on museums is simply wrong (at least in the context of our Museum). There is really no denying that we stand with him at the barricade and contribute essential fortification against forgetting.”

It's our blog, so we get the last word.
Photo courtesy New Yorker Films

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