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JIFF: Holocaust Film Series

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The scars of the Holocaust run deep for those who survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. Time continues but the memories and nightmares remain as powerful today as they did seventy years ago.
(Above: a still from Drawing From Oblivion which is about the Austrian artist Manfred Bockelmann who draws the faces of the children murdered during the Holocaust. One of Bockelmann's sketches will hang in Elsternwick's Classic Cinema for the duration of the Holocaust Film Series)

Macquarie University Professor Stephanie Lawson writes in International Relations that the Holocaust killed nearly six million Jews, Gypsies, political opponents, homosexuals, people with disabilities and others.

Although international conventions (UN) have since been established to prevent state signatories from mass executing its citizens, it is still an era indicative of how intolerance left unchecked in society can quickly escalate.

In politics today, as in the Nazi Party then, many citizens felt powerless to kick-out Hitler and so, left unchecked, the Nazi Party grew. The great shame of the era is many people did nothing and so, left to fester, it got worse. Today, this leaves a silent question of why citizens today cannot choose to change the Prime Minister mid-term but members of parliament can without input from citizens.

Perhaps this is why it is so important to keep the 'checks and balances' on those in power, and especially those gaining too much power.

Perhaps, this is also why it is so important to remember and learn from the past.

This year, the Jewish International Film Festival revisits this past with its Holocaust Film Series in cinemas across Melbourne and Sydney.

It all kicks-off in both cities on the 30th of April and runs until May 12th this year with a showcase of thirty films, many of which see their debuts in Australia during this series.

Hitler's Mein Kampf: A Dangerous Book
Director: Manfred Oldenburg
Length: 52 minutes
Released date: 2015

Hitler wrote most of this book while in jail for treason during the 1920s; the book of evil.

Deliberately I use the word 'evil' for, from the words of this sick and twisted killer's mind, sprouted armies of cold-blooded murderers.

It must be noted, Germany had joined an antecedent to the UN, the League of Nations, in 1933, and Hitler won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1939 before Germany invaded Poland later that year in September.

Such was how Hitler had the world fooled.

Now the book is on sale. The copyright of this banned book lifted in December 2015 and has since been published with annotations, rising to the bestseller list in Germany this year.

This film explores why this Mein Kampf is so dangerous.

Hitler's Mein Kampf : A Dangerous Book Trailer from JIFF on Vimeo.

Spectres of Shoah
Director: Adam Benzine
Length: 40 minutes
Released Date: 2015

This Academy Award-nominated documentary explores Claude Lanzmann's making of Shoah.

Shoah is a ten-hour documentary released during the eighties which includes first-hand accounts of the Holocaust from survivors, and a spine-chilling account of the gas chambers by an SS soldier.

The filming of Shoah took Claude Lanzmann twelve years to make and is regarded as one of the foremost pieces of history of the Holocaust on film.

Classic Cinema, Elsternwick, May 1: Guest lecturers from Deakin University Dr Ian Brown and Dr Trent Griffiths will engage in a panel discussion after the film. The event will be chaired by Co-president of the Holocaust Centre Sue Hampel.

Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction, May 3: In Sydney, members of Sydney Jewish Museum will gather for a panel discussion, including Dr Avril Alba, Dr Ari Lander, and Associate Professor Michael Robertson. The discussion will be chaired by Marie Bonardelli also of Sydney's Jewish Museum.

Persona Non Gratis
Director: Cellin Gluck
Length: 139 minutes
Released date: 2015

Selling-out fast is Persona Non Gratis which is the real-life heroic story about Japanese Consul-General Chiune Sugihara who issued visas to Jewish people who could not afford them, thus saving their lives.

Against the rules for visas transmitted to Sugihara directly by the Hong Kong government, he saved about six thousand people.

Sugihara had nothing to gain, and everything to lose. He did not stand by and do nothing while millions of people were being slaughtered.

Today life-size monuments of him rests in Jerusalem and Los Angeles.

A Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did
Director: David Evans
Length: One hour 36 minutes
Release Date: 2015

Two sons travel to Europe with a human rights lawyer to confront their past; what their fathers did.

Each son reacts differently when confronted with the past of their fathers' involvement with the Nazis during World War II.

One son despises what his father did. The other son finds it difficult to react negatively towards his father, even after being confronted with his father's horror-filled past. Both of their fathers were deceased before this film was shot.

Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction, May 2: After the film, members of Sydney's Jewish Museum Professor Konrad Kwiet and Ms Ilana McCorquodale will present a panel discussion along with psychotherapist Dr John McClean.

Associate Professor Michael Roberts will chair the panel.

This film is also showing in the Lido Cinema in Hawthorn and Elsternwick's Classic Cinema.

Classic Cinema, Elsternwick, Melbourne
Lido Cinema, Hawthorn, Melbourne
Event Cinema, Bondi, Sydney

For more information, see their website:

Eddie Tamir
Eddie Tamir is the director of the Holocaust Film Series which was established in 2014, and the Jewish International Film Festival which runs during the latter half of the year. He also owns the newly opened Lido Cinema, the well-established Classic Cinema, and the Cameo Cinema in Melbourne.

With a focus on Australian, international and arthouse films, Mr Tamir's cinemas also support local upcoming talent.

Mr Tamir said students of Swinburne University often get the opportunity to showcase their works across the road at the Lido Cinema in Hawthorn.

"We show their films here and we also have retrospectives here of forty years of Swinburne great film-making, and the directors will present their films and [afterwards] there will be a Q and A" Mr Tamir told Bohemian Rhapsody Club earlier this year.

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When: April 30 to May 12
Where: Melbourne and Sydney
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NB from author Rachel Gray: I am not Jewish, but I wrote the above article after listening to somebody I know telling me her story about how she survived Germany's concentration camps. The article was published elsewhere.
by (score: |) 1811 days ago
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