Imaginary Witnesses:
Hollywood and European Directors Focus on the Holoc

Presented by
The National Center for Jewish Film and Goethe -Institut Boston
and Brandeis University,
The Wasserman Fund
The Center for German and European Studies
The Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry
The Film Studies Program
Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department

Opening with the premiere of a new documentary about Hollywood holocaust films, featuring films of Steven Spielberg, and Sidney Lumet, as well as footage from the National Center for Jewish Film archive, this series continues with an array of award winning features by some of the most talented European directors including Wajda, Szabo, Weisz, and Holland. Seven of the films were produced by Artur Brauner, a survivor who lost 49 relatives when the Nazis invaded his hometown of Lodz, Poland.

Brauner’s first film honoring victims of the Nazi era, Morituri (1948), was released when the German public was not yet ready for critical introspection. Discouraged by this, Brauner focused on light-hearted, popular entertainment films, becoming the most successful independent producer in Europe with over 250 films to his credit. In the 1960s, changes in the socio-political climate enabled Brauner to return to this topic, which lay close to his heart. The Goethe-Institut Boston is providing these outstanding films. Additional films by Vittorio De Sica and Philo Bregstein round out the series.

Sunday, October 17, 4PM
Special guest filmmaker Dan Anker
Imaginary Witness: Hollywood And The Holocaust
USA, 2004, 92 minutes, color
Director: Daniel Anker
Starring: Gene Hackman, Sidney Lumet, Steven Spielberg, Branko Lustig, Greg Reynolds.
Premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, 2004

The American film industry played a crucial role in supporting United States and Allied military interests during World War II, but Hollywood abdicated its responsibility to directly condemn Nazi anti-Semitism. It took decades after the war ended before American filmmakers began offering a realistic, dramatic look at the horrible toll of Hitler's "final solution."

Using wonderful archival footage, this important new film examines how only a few Hollywood directors reacted to the persecution and murder of Jews before and during the war and how the Holocaust was finally brought to the screen by brave independent filmmakers. (This film will screen at Boston Jewish Film Festival in November)

Thursday, October 21, 7 PM
Garden of the Finzi Continis
Italy/West Germany, 1971, 94 minutes, Italian with English subtitles
Director: Vittorio de Sica
Cast: Lino Capolicchio, Dominique Sanda.
Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear Award
Introduced by Alice Kelikian, Associate Professor of History, Brandeis University

Set in northern Italy's Ferrara community at the outbreak of World War II, this classic film based on a novel, concerns an old, aristocratic Jewish family, who maintain their isolated, idyllic ways within the stone walls of their lush estate while Mussolini imprisons Jews outside. The story's central figure, young Giorgio is a middle-class Jew who has always found perfect sanctuary within the Finzi-Continis' walls and who is in love with his childhood friend from that family, Micol. De Sica traces the disintegration of a lost and beautiful way of life, slowly turning his focus from the privileged refuge of tennis courts and private libraries to police barriers and rooms where Jews await transport to concentration camps. This powerful work of memory tragically captures a loss of innocence on both the most personal and historical stages.

Sunday, October 24, 4 PM
Special guest filmmaker Agnieszka Holland
Europa Europa (Hitlerjunge Salomon)
Germany/France, 1989/90, 113 minutes, color, German with English subtitles
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Cast: Salomon Perel, Marco Hofschneider, Piotr Kozlowski
Winner of The Golden Globe Award

Fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany and then Poland, a young Jewish boy Salomon Perel arrives in the USSR and is educated in the Komsomol. When the Nazis invade the USSR, he chooses to present himself to the invaders as an ethnic German, and is soon forced to fight as a soldier in the Wehrmacht.

This film, based on a true story, is Artur Brauner’s most controversial production. Although successful in the United States, the German selection board refused to nominate it for the Academy Award. This led to a discussion about the appropriateness of melodrama, grotesqueness, comedy, and eroticism about the Holocaust.

Sunday, October 31, 4 PM
A Love In Germany (Eine Liebe In Deutschland)
Germany/France, 1983, 107 minutes, color, German with English subtitles
Director: Andrzej Wajda
Cast: Hanna Schygulla, Piotr Lysak, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Bernhard Wicki, Elisabeth Trissenaar

In May 1983, a stranger and his son arrive in the small town of Brombach in southern Germany. The man starts investigating a story the villagers prefer to forget: Pauline Kropp's love affair with a Polish slave laborer during World War II. In flashbacks, the film recounts the fate of the two lovers, slowly disclosing the stranger's connection with these events.
Based on the novel by Rolf Hochhuth, this somber, atmospheric drama unites some of the upcoming stars of the New German Cinema.

Thursday, November 4, 7 PM
Germany/Hungary, 1986/87, 116 minutes, color, German with English subtitles
Director: István Szabó;
Cast: Klaus Maria Brandauer, Erland Josephson, Ildikó Bánsági
Nominated for the Academy Award as best foreign-language film in 1988.

Famous clairvoyant Hanussen predicts Hitler's election victory in January 1933. In good standing with the Nazis, he makes a decisive mistake by publicly foretelling the Reichstag arson in February 1933, and is subsequently kidnapped and killed.
This production focused on the critical period between the defeat of the German Empire and the Nazis' rise to power.

Sunday, November 7, 4 PM
Angry Harvest (Bittere Ernte)

Germany, 1984/85, 105 minutes, color, German with English subtitles
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Cast: Armin Mueller-Stahl, Elisabeth Trissenaar, Gerd Baltus, Margit Carstensen

After a Polish farmer finds an exhausted woman who escaped the Nazis, he decides to give her shelter. Living under the same roof, a difficult relationship evolves. This brilliant film scrutinizes the character of a man torn between subservience and lack of scruples, piety and hypocrisy, while relating a parable of post-war Poland's difficult relationship toward Jews. Brauner actively supported Polish filmmakers and actors who attacked subjects that were taboo in his native country.

Thursday, November 11, 7 PM
Witness Out Of Hell (Zeugin Aus Der Hölle)
Germany/Yugoslavia, 1965/67, 83 minutes, b/w, German with English subtitles
Director: Zika Mitrovic
Cast: Irene Papas, Heinz Drache, Daniel Gélin, Werner Peters

Lea Weiss, a survivor of the Nazi extermination camps, is forced to testify in court against her former tormentor twenty years later. Surrounded by people who avoid the past, Lea must describe what she experienced - and in the process, becomes a victim again.
Released just twelve days before the pronouncement of judgment in the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial, this film directly presented the Holocaust as a problem of post-war German society, and was only shown a dozen or so times before it disappeared for thirty years. Released again in 1998, it disturbed many German viewers, who empathized with the witness' plight.

Sunday, November 14, 4 PM
Charlotte S.

Germany/Netherlands, 1980, 95 minutes, color, German with English subtitles
Director: Frans Weisz
Cast: Birgit Doll, Derek Jacobi, Elisabeth Trissenaar, Brigitte Horney

Based upon the true story of Charlotte Salomon, who fled from Berlin in 1939 to southern France, this film provides a loving portrait of the now famous artist. Battling depression, Charlotte finds freedom by painting more than a thousand gouache paintings before her death in Auschwitz. Although it won the Bavarian Film Award, this film found no company willing to distribute it in West German cinemas. It was then shown on German public television.

Tuesday, November 16, 7 PM
Guest filmmaker and co-authors Philo Bregstein and Salvador Bloemgarten
In Search of Jewish Amsterdam
Netherlands, 1975, 70 minutes, color

Historian Bregstein set out to discover what Jewish life was like in Amsterdam before the virtual annihilation of the Jewish population. Through interviews with survivors, and uncovering documents, the film traces the development of socialism and the cultural life of this once vibrant community.

Thursday, November 18, 7 PM
The Rose Garden (Der Rosengarten)
Germany/Netherlands, 1989/90, 112 minutes, color, German with English subtitles
Director: Fons Rademakers
Cast: Maximilian Schell, Liv Ullmann, Peter Fonda, Jan Niklas

Elderly Aaron Reichenbach knocks down a man on the street whom he recognizes as his sister's murderer. On trial for bodily assault, Reichenbach is found guilty, whereas the other man gets away with impunity. Based on the true story of a man who was responsible for the hanging of twenty children at a Hamburg school in early 1945, Maximilian Schell’s sterling performance raises the issues of guilt and remembrance to a new generation.

Director Fons Rademakers makes identifying with Aaron Reichenbach (in a particularly convincing performance) very difficult. As the plot unfolds, insight and understanding of his character start to develop.

All films will be screened in the Wasserman Cinematheque, Sachar Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Free admission (donations will not be refused) and free parking
Please note no reserved seating
781 736 8600

NCJF logo, Goethe Inst Logo Brandeis logo, MCC logo
Note – no screening on October 28th.