(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
In what has been described as a “clandestine cultural breakthrough,” a film based on Holocaust victim Anne Frank that was recorded in Gaza, Ramallah and Jaffa has been secretly screened in Iran.
The documentary-drama film Anne Frank: Then and Now was shown Sunday without the approval of the authorities in Iran, where Holocaust denial is widespread and official, Deadline Hollywood reported Thursday.
The film, shot in 2014 in Arabic with English subtitles, centers on eight Palestinian girls and two Israelis who read excerpts from the famous diary of Anne Frank.
While the diary is a centerpiece of Holocaust education in the West, the documentary’s filmmakers made it to help bring the account of the young Jewish girl who died in Bergen-Belsen to the Arab world, where the Holocaust largely remains overlooked and denied.
Jakov Sedlar, the documentary’s Croatian co-director, attended his film’s screening in Iran, where artists and filmmakers have been imprisoned for activities the regime in Tehran deem as treacherous.
Sedlar told Deadline
that before the clandestine screening he made introductory remarks including an explanation of the Holocaust and Frank’s life.
“After the screening, I had a one-hour conversation with the audience. Those students never ever heard about Anne Frank; just two young people knew something about the Holocaust,” he told the Hollywood-based online magazine.
While the location of the film’s showing and the identities of those who attended the event remained undisclosed due to security fears, Deadline
reported that it had obtained photographs of the venue that confirm the authenticity of the hush-hush screening.Anne Frank: Then and Now
was produced by Auschwitz survivor and two-time Oscar-winning producer Branko Lustig, who makes an appearance in the film recounting parts of his harrowing experience.
While the film has been lauded as a rare Arabic exploration of Holocaust themes, it has also garnered criticism for its unfavorable take on Israel’s actions during the 2014 war (Operation Protective Edge) with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.