"Death Mills" + "Night and Fog" (Holocaust: Affect and Absence Series)
March 01, 2017
07:30 PM - 08:30 PM
Dryden Theatre, George Eastman Museum, 900 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607
(Billy Wilder, US 1945, 22 min., 16mm)
Originally made with a German soundtrack for screening in occupied Germany and Austria, this film was the first documentary to show what the Allies found when they liberated the Nazi extermination camps: the survivors, the conditions, and the evidence of mass murder. The film includes accounts of the economic aspects of the camps’ operation, the interrogation of captured camp personnel, and the enforced visits of the inhabitants of neighboring towns, who, along with the rest of their compatriots, are blamed for complicity in the Nazi crimes—one of the few such condemnations in the Allied war records.
Night and Fog
(Nuit et brouillard, Alain Resnais, France 1956, 32 min., 16mm, French w/subtitles)
Ten years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, filmmaker Alain Resnais documented the abandoned grounds of Auschwitz. One of the first cinematic reflections on the horrors of the Holocaust, Night and Fog contrasts the stillness of the abandoned camps’ quiet, empty buildings with haunting wartime footage. Resnais investigates the cyclical nature of man’s violence toward man and presents the unsettling suggestion that such horrors could come again.
About the "Holocaust: Affect and Absence" Film Series
All depictions of the Holocaust grapple with a central question: how does one represent the unrepresentable? The continuous stream of new films about the Holocaust, more than seventy years after the end of World War II, attests to both the difficulties and the importance of this problem. The films selected for this series span these decades and challenge us to think about how much is said through silence and fraught emotional connections between the films and their audiences. This program of documentaries ranges from some of the first filmic reflections of the atrocities in the camps in Billy Wilder’s Death Mills (1945) and Alain Resnais’s Night and Fog (1956), to a search for the lost East European Jewish communities of Ruth Beckermann’s family members before WWII in her film Paper Bridge (1987), to Chantal Akerman’s moving final film about her relationship to her mother and their relationship to her mother’s past in No Home Movie (2015). The films all reflect on questions of responsibility, violence, and humanity in ways that resonate in the present day, thus creating compelling albeit complicated relationships between past and present.
This series is a collaboration between the George Eastman Museum, the JCC Ames Amzalak Rochester Jewish Film Festival, and the University of Rochester. It is made possible in part by the University of Rochester’s German Program, Film and Media Studies Program, and Center for Jewish Studies.
$4 students with ID
Category: Film Screenings