Drama about Holocaust denial takes top prize at Czech film festival

The film festival held in the Czech Republic gave the prize to "I Do Not Care if We Go Down in History as Barbarians," a drama focusing on a young theater director in present-day Romania.

July 8, 2018 15:32
2 minute read.
Drama about Holocaust denial takes top prize at Czech film festival

Scene from the film 'I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians' . (photo credit: KVIFF)


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Amid the raging controversy over Poland’s Holocaust legislation, a film about Romanian Holocaust denial won the top prize at the Karlovy Vary International film festival on Saturday.

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PM Netanyahu welcomes Poland's Holocaust law change, June 27, 2018 (GPO)

"I Do Not Care if We Go Down in History as Barbarians," a drama directed by Romanian Radu Jude, focuses on a young theater director in present-day Romania.

The character, Mariana, seeks to stage a show about the real-life massacre of hundreds of thousands of Jews by Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu, in collaboration with Adolf Hitler. But while staging the show in the present day, Mariana encounters government censorship, all sorts of attempts to whitewash history and lingering antisemitism.

The title, “I Do Not Care if We Go Down in History as Barbarians,” is taken from a 1941 speech by Antonescu justifying the mass murder of Jews.

“The reason one looks in history, I think what it is for me, is always to find a connection with something from the present,” Jude said during a red-carpet interview at the festival. “This film deals with the memory or lack of memory, or the possibilities of representation of the ethnic cleansing done by the Romanian Army.... You look at today’s Europe, and you see racism and antisemitism and negationism and a lot of those things. So a story from that time is relevant.”

The film festival, held in the Czech Republic, also gave the prize for best actor to Moshe Folkenflik for his role in the Israeli film Geula. That film features a former rock and roll star turned Orthodox Jew who discovers his young daughter, Geula, is gravely ill.

The movie, directed and written by Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yacov, had its world premiere at the festival last week. In addition to the best actor prize, Geula, stylized as Redemption in English, received the ecumenical prize for its depiction of religious themes. Folkenflik did not pick up his prize in person, since he is Shabbat observant.

Festival organizers called the movie “an understated, gentle, and concise film that conveys the finest of emotions and draws its characters with a meticulous hand.” Geula will have its Israeli premier at the Jerusalem Film Festival later this month.

Madmony’s film Restoration won the top prize at the 2011 Karlovy Vary.

“In a way, the sacrifice of the main hero is taking his past, his art, his being a rock star and throwing it away in order to be closer to God,” said Madmony in an interview at the festival last week. “That’s what he thinks in the beginning, that you can’t be a rock star and a religious person. So he sacrifices his career, he sacrifices his being a musician, his being an artist, and he just accepts that there is something bigger than him, and this is what he must – he must always worship this entity.”

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