The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center presents this Sunday afternoon film series, completely free. Registration is required.
The Last Suit
Directed by Pablo Solarz
Spain/Argentina, 2017, 91 minutes
Spanish with English subtitles
Abraham Bursztein, an 88 year-old Jewish tailor, runs away from Buenos Aires to Poland, where he proposes to find a friend who saved him from certain death at the end of World War II. After seven decades without any contact with him, Abraham will try to find his old friend and keep his promise to return one day. Comedic and poignant in equal measure, this film approaches its weighty themes with a light touch that illuminates a serious story.
Introductory remarks and post-screening discussion facilitated by Robert A. Cohn, film reviewer and Editor–in-Chief Emeritus, St. Louis Jewish Light. Bob Cohn has served as co-Chair for the St. Louis Jewish Film Festival, and he teaches film courses for OASIS and the Center For Jewish Learning. He is a member of the St. Louis Film Festival Committee, the St. Louis Jewish Film Society, and the St. Louis Cinema Club.
Directed by Anna-Celia Kendall
France, 2014, 75 minutes
English and French with English subtitles
“What to do with all of my mother’s stuff and that beat-up piano?” asks the filmmaker. In this intriguing and complex documentary, Anna-Celia Kendall traces her family’s journey across war-torn 20th century Europe. Searching through her deceased mother’s effects leads her to discover that her grandfather was the founder of a major Yiddish paper. The persecution of European Jewry thus becomes a central element in the Yatzkan’s story, and the Holocaust takes an increasingly prominent place in the film.
Introductory remarks and post-screening discussion facilitated by Pier Marton, presently the “Unlearning Specialist” at the School of No Media. Besides Yad Vashem, he has lectured on his artwork at the Museum of Modern Art, the Carnegie Museum, and the Walker Art Center. He has taught at several major U.S. universities. Marton’s father, photographer Ervin Marton, was in the French Résistance.
The Ritchie Boys
Directed by Christian Bauer
Canada, 2004, 90 minutes
English and some German with English subtitles
This fascinating documentary tells the little-known story of Jewish refugees from Austria, Romania, and Germany who volunteer to fight the Nazis. Realizing their potential espionage value, the U.S. military trained them at Camp Ritchie, Maryland. In this tale of bravery and chutzpah, five “Ritchie Boys” relate their memories of rigorous intelligence training, frontline experiences, propaganda, and prisoner interrogation.
Introductory remarks and post-screening discussion facilitated by Dr. Paul Michael Lutzeler, Director of the Max Kade Center for Contemporary German Literature and Rosa May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Lutzeler has extensively written about German and Austrian Exile Literature (1933-1945), as well as the idea of Europe in German and European literature and 19th and 20th century German literature. Co-sponsored by the Triple Chai group of Central Reform Congregation.
No film in April because of Passover
No film in May because of Memorial Day
Directed by Atom Egoyan
Canada, 2015, 94 minutes
English and some German with English subtitles
Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau star in this suspenseful and poignant film about a Holocaust survivor struggling with dementia, who, with the aid of a fellow survivor and a hand-written letter, embarks on a cross-country odyssey to find the former Nazi responsible for the deaths of their family members.
Introductory remarks and post-screening discussion facilitated by Erin McGlothlin, Associate Professor of German and Jewish Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. McGlothlin’s main research interests are German-Jewish literature and the literature of the Holocaust. In 2006, she published Second Generation Holocaust Literature: Legacies of Survival and Perpetration.
Directed by Frank Pierson
USA, 2001, 96 minutes, English
Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci star in this compelling drama about the Wannsee Conference. At this gathering on January 20, 1942, senior Nazi officials meet to determine the manner in which the so-called “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” could be best implemented.
Introductory remarks and post-screening discussion facilitated by Christopher J. Probst, who teaches courses in modern European history, Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust at Washington University in St. Louis and Maryville University. His publications include Demonizing the Jews: Luther and the Protestant Church in Nazi Germany (Indiana University Press, 2012). His research focuses on how German Protestants viewed Jews and Judaism in the decades before, during, and after the Holocaust. In 2008, he was a Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
USA, 1953, 84 minutes, English
Kirk Douglas stars as Hans Muller, a former concentration camp inmate from Berlin, who immigrates to Israel in 1949. This powerful film, produced by Stanley Kramer, explores Muller’s postwar struggle to adjust to peacetime life.
Introductory remarks and post-screening discussion facilitated by Brad Prager, Professor of Film Studies and German at the University of Missouri. His research areas include film history, contemporary German cinema, and Holocaust studies. His publications include the recent book After the Fact: The Holocaust in Twenty-First Century Documentary Film (2015), as well as a book on the German director Werner Herzog, and an edited volume entitled Visualizing the Holocaust: Documents, Aesthetics, Memory (2008).
No film screening in September
Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe
Directed by Maria Schrader
Germany, 2016, 106 minutes
Germany, Portuguese, French, and Spanish with English subtitles
In 1936, Jewish author Stefan Zweig left Austria for South America to escape the specter of Nazism. This intense film charts his years of exile and his inner struggle for the “right attitude” toward the events in war-torn Europe.
Introductory remarks and post-screening discussion facilitated by Caroline Kita, Assistant Professor of German Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research interests include German and Austrian literature and culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, German-Jewish studies, music and musical aesthetics, theater and performance, and sound studies. Her book, Jewish Difference and the Arts: Composing Compassion in Music and Biblical Drama (Indiana University Press, 2019), examines discourses of inclusion and otherness in musical and dramatic works by Jewish artists in Vienna around 1900.
Directed by Felix Moeller
Germany, 2014, 94 minutes
German with English subtitles
1,200 feature films were made in Germany’s Third Reich. According to experts, some 100 of these were blatant Nazi propaganda. Nearly 70 years after the end of the Nazi regime, more than 40 of these films remain under lock and key. Director Felix Moeller interviews German film historians, archivists, and filmgoers in an investigation of the power, and potential danger, of cinema when used for ideological purposes. Utilizing film clips, Moeller shows how contentious these 70-year-old films remain, and how propaganda can retain its punch when presented to audiences susceptible to manipulation.
Introductory remarks and post-screening discussion facilitated by Dr. Warren Rosenblum, currently Chair of the History, Politics, and International Relations Department at Webster University. As Visiting Fellow at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies (2017), Dr. Rosenblum pursued research for his project, “The Feeble-Minded in Germany: Between Sympathy and Persecution.”
The Last Laugh
Directed by Ferne Pearlstein
USA. 2016, 88 minutes, In English
“Is the Holocaust funny? This documentary looks at the taboo topic of humor, delving deep into pop-culture to find out where to draw the line, and whether that is a desirable—or even possible—goal. Much of the film is centered around Auschwitz survivor Renee Firestone, who discusses humor in the concentration camps and finding enjoyment in life after. Comics, including Mel Brooks and Sarah Silveman, also share their views.
Introductory remarks and post-screening discussion facilitated by Henry I. Dr. Schvey, Professor of Drama and Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis since 1987. Dr. Schvey is a director, playwright, and memoirist, as well as a scholar of modern American drama. His play, Hannah’s Shawl, was originally commissioned by the St. Louis Holocaust & Learning Center, and a coming-of-age memoir, The Poison Tree, was published in fall 2016. He is currently completing a study of Tennessee Williams’s complicated relationship to St. Louis.