Monday, October 27, 2014

Q&A with the Director of Karski & The Lords of Humanity





On Wednesday, November 19 at 7 p.m., the Museum  will welcome director Slawomir Grünberg for a screening and discussion of his new film, Karski & the Lords of Humanity.



The film tells the story of Jan Karski, the Polish resistance fighter who risked his life to reveal the horrors of the Warsaw Ghetto. This innovative documentary in English and Polish sheds light on Karski’s daring exploits and important legacy 100 years after his birth.



Watch the trailer here.



We’re grateful that Mr. Grünberg took the time to answer some of our questions about the film’s subject and his unique way of portraying Karksi’s life using animation.





MJH: Why you were drawn to Karski’s story


Slawomir Grünberg: Jan Karski is an example of a modern day hero. I wanted to present an earnest portrait of a man who juggled between life and death while fulfilling a desperate mission to stop the annihilation of European Jews. As a member of the Polish underground during World War II, Karski took a huge risk by infiltrating the Warsaw Ghetto and a Nazi transit camp. There he witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust in order to carry a first-hand report to the Western Allies and the world’s leaders. When I first heard the story, I was very inspired that this extraordinary individual was only 25 years old at the time of his mission.” 



MJH: What you hope audiences will walk away thinking or feeling about his life and legacy? 



SG: We hope our audience will be diverse, not only in terms of age, but also in terms of religion, ethnicity, and cultural background. We would like the viewers to learn about Karski’s World War II mission, and also come away with an appreciation of Karski’s contribution to the humanities. We are especially interested in engaging university and high-school students. We are reaching out to them via Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube. Having presented excerpts from the work-in-progress, we are receiving very positive responses to the use of animation in the project, especially from educators who continue to approach us expressing their desire to use the completed film in their work.

MJH:  We’d love to hear a little about why you chose to partially animate the film.

SG: My inspiration to use animation in my project was the Israeli film "Waltz with Bashir," which I found extremely moving. A similar innovative fusion of technologies was employed by our team to create a unique film reality, and to bring Karski’s compelling story to life.

The film employs animation intertwined with documentary scenes and archival footage, including authentic voice-over by Jan Karski himself. Thanks to the animation techniques, we are able to recreate the events, which took place during Karski’s World War II mission including his treacherous visit to the Warsaw Ghetto, where he witnessed the indignities and traumas to which Jews were being subjected in Nazi-occupied Poland only months preceding the Final Solution. 

 The film is presented with the Polish Cultural Institute and the Jan Karski Educational Foundation.

Image courtesy of Slawomir Grünberg. 

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