Holocaust Remembrance Day: Movies, TV to watch in Israel

There will be countless special programs marking the day at the movies and on television. Here are a few of the highlights.

 ‘THE SURVIVOR’ (photo credit: Courtesy of Bron Studios)
(photo credit: Courtesy of Bron Studios)

It becomes clear while you watch Where is Anne Frank, the latest animated docudrama by Ari Folman, best known for his innovative 2008 movie about the Lebanon War, Waltz with Bashir, that Anne Frank was a great movie lover and missed big-screen entertainment while she was in hiding. 

Watching movies would seem to be a fitting way to honor her memory and the memory of all those who passed away in the Holocaust during Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day on April 27-28.

There will be countless special programs marking the day at the movies and on television. Here are a few of the highlights.

A number of movies will be shown both in the cinematheques to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day and will also be opening in theaters across the country on that day or shortly afterward. Tickets to the movies at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on April 26 and 27 will only cost NIS 10.

Where is Anne Frank will be shown in English and Hebrew versions at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on April 26 and 27, and will be opening in theaters on May 5. While so many movies about the Holocaust are obviously not suitable for children, this one is designed for children. 

 ‘WHERE IS Anne Frank’ (credit: LENA GUBERMAN) ‘WHERE IS Anne Frank’ (credit: LENA GUBERMAN)

It tells the story of Frank in an entertaining and innovative way, by having Kitty, the imaginary friend to whom she related her life’s experiences in her diary, come to life at the Anne Frank Museum in contemporary Amsterdam. 

It weaves in her journey through that modern-day city, where she meets struggling migrants, with Frank’s story very effectively. Adults can also enjoy the film, but children seem to have been front and center on Folman’s mind when he made it.

Charlotte, directed by Tahir Rana and Eric Warin, is another animated documentary. It tells the story of German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon, who fled to the south of France and was killed in the Holocaust. The movie will be shown on April 27 at the Jerusalem Cinematheque and will open in theaters on April 28.

This English-language film, in which Keira Knightley voices the lead character, features stunning images that depict Salomon’s creations and it is a compelling portrait of this unusual painter and her troubled family life. She struggled to break free both personally and artistically, and the movie will make you long to see an exhibition of her creations, some of which survived the war.

Everyone knows how Charlie Chaplin lampooned Hitler in The Great Dictator, but there is also Ernst Lubitsch’s subversive 1942, a black comedy classic about World War II. 

To Be or Not to Be is not as well known today and it will be shown at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on April 25. It will be introduced by a talk by Alon Gur Arye, the director of such comedies as Mossad. The movie tells the story of a troupe of Polish actors, some of them Jewish, who become involved in finding a Nazi spy when the Germans invade Poland. 

It stars Jack Benny, one of the great Jewish-American comedians of the 20th century, and Carole Lombard, a wonderful screwball comedian, as well as Robert Stack and Sig Ruman.

While some have found it to be in bad taste, others enjoy this anti-Nazi satire. Many of the actors pose as Nazi officials and spies and one even impersonates Hitler. Benny, pretending to be a German officer in charge of the camps, utters the line, “We do the concentrating, the Poles do the camping.” Mel Brooks remade the film in 1983 with Anne Bancroft.

THE SURVIVOR, a new movie by Barry Levinson that tells the true story of Harry Haft, a Polish Jew who survived Auschwitz by boxing in matches organized by the guards, will open in theaters on April 28 and will be shown at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on April 26 and 27. Haft survived the war and competed as a light heavyweight in the US. Ben Foster plays the lead role and the cast includes Peter Sarsgaard, Danny DeVito and Vicki Krieps.

The Royal Game, an adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s novella, Chess, will also be shown at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on April 26 and 27 and will be opening in theaters on April 28. Directed by Philipp Stolzl, it tells the disturbing story of a man imprisoned by the Nazis in a Vienna hotel for years and who uses chess as a way to keep from losing his mind. This film is particularly effective in its depiction of the horror of this kind of captivity.

Plan A, the latest movie by Doron Paz and Yoav Paz, who made the zombies-in-Jerusalem movie, Jeruzalem, is at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on April 26 and 27 and will be opening in theaters in Israel and the US later this year. 

It is based on the plan by a number of Holocaust survivors, among them poet and political leader Abba Kovner (who is played by Ishai Golan, one of the stars of False Flag), to take revenge on Germany after the war by poisoning the water system. Other stars include Michael Aloni (Shtisel), Oz Zehavi and August Diehl.

The Conference, a new German film by Matti Geschonneck about the Wannsee Conference, at which the plan for creating the death camps and implementing the Final Solution was decided upon, stars Johannes Allmayer and Philipp Hochmair. It will be shown on April 26 and 27 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.

The first feature film directed by actress Sandrine Kiberlain, A Radiant Girl, will be shown at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on April 28 and April 29. Much in this movie, about a young, Jewish acting student (Rebecca Marder) in Paris in 1942 who is willfully oblivious to the approaching doom and who immerses herself in romances and audition pieces, is well done. But parts of the story of her family are ill-conceived and at times she starts to seem goofy or dumb as she ignores reality.

The Last Picture Show in Bucharest, a.k.a. Nelson, which was directed by Ludi Boeken, tells the complex story of a Romanian Jew whose family is slaughtered during the Holocaust when he is a child and who makes his way to the Israeli army, the French Legion and eventually to Vietnam in a long quest for justice. The movie is playing in theaters around Israel.

High-school trips to Europe to visit the sites of death camps have become a part of the lives of so many Israeli young people and now these trips are the focus of Memory Forest, a television drama that weaves their experiences at the concentration camp sites with their personal lives. It shows them as they visit Treblinka, the Warsaw and Lublin ghettos and other sites around Poland.

It is hard to think of any equivalent in the world where teens are taken to historic sites abroad where mass slaughter occurred – American high school students tend to go on trips to visit Washington, DC, which is obviously completely different – and this is the first drama series for young people to focus on this. It was created by Chen Kleiman Gal and will begin showing on the Kan Educational Channel on April 24 at 5 p.m., and will run from Sunday to Wednesday.