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February 12, 2016     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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February 12, 2016
 

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 nominee was Gdza R#hrig as Saul in "Son of SauL' By Cnaan Liphshiz BERLIN (JTA) -- Set amid a 1944 prisoner uprising at Auschwitz, "Son of Saul" stood out as a long shot when its producers first ap- plied for funding from the Conference on Jewish Mate- rial Claims Against Germany. The film's director, Laszlo Nemes, had no experience with feature films; its lead actor hadn't been on a film set in 15 years; and its script included long, silent and out- of-focus shots. But the Claims Conference, which negotiates restitution for Nazi victims, ultimately decided to help bankroll the film. It's a gamble that now seems prescient, as "Son of Saul" is favored to win best foreign language film at the Oscars on Feb. 28. Worldwide ticket sales for the Golden Globe-winning film are north of $2 million, already exceeding the film's slim $1.6 million budget. "People all over the world are realizing we're facing the last generation of Holocaust survivors, so we're in a race against time to cling to the ex- periences of the survivors still amongst us," Greg Schneider, the Claims Conference's vice president, told JTA. Since the 1993 release of Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List," which won the Oscar for best picture, rep- resentations of the Holocaust have emerged as an important genre in cinema in and beyond the U.S. market. Other award- winning productions, such as "Life is Beautiful" (1997), "The Pianist" (2002), "Inglourious Basterds" (2009) and last year's "Woman in Gold," have followed. In recent years, many filmmakers from Europe have trained their lenses on the same theme, resulting in such critically acclaimed pro- ductions as "Phoenix" (Ger- many, 2014), "Ida" (Poland, 2013), "Suskind" (The Neth- erlands, 2012) and "Sarah's Key" (France, 2010). The Claims Conference, which since 2008 has devoted a small portion of its bud- get to funding educational Holocaust films, provided about $50,000 of the "Son of Saul" budget. But even that relatively small contribution was subject to "serious inter- nal debate," Schneider said. "It was a risk that paid off," he said. The Claims Conference re- ceives funding requests for about 50 films a year. One factor that helped clinch the deal with Nemes was the quality of a short Ho- locaust film, "With a Little Patience," that he had made back in 2007. Another factor was the director's meticulous attention to historical accu- racy, as demonstrated by the "Son of Saul" script. While fictional, the plot uses an accurate backdrop in telling the story of Saul Auslander, a member of the Sonderkommando, a group of Jews whom the Germans forced to work in the gas chambers. In the film, an unemotional Auslander is seen herding transport after transport of his brethren to their deaths before becom- ing unhinged at the sight of a Nazi doctor suffocating a boy of 14 who had some- how survived the poison. Oblivious to the rebellion being planned around him, Auslander abuses the access that his gruesome job affords him in an attempt to bury the teenager. "Auslander's story is tic- tional, the rest is accurate," have received funding from Schneider told JTA last week the Claims Conferencearethe in Berlin, where the Claims award-winning "Numbered" Conference organized the (2012) and "The Decent One" film's premiere in Germany. (2014). (The Sonderkommando at The remainder of the bud- Auschwitz did stage a rebel- get for "Son of Saul" came lion in October 1944. Sepa- almostentirelyfromtheHun- rately, two teenagers were garian National Film Fund. murdered after surviving the Agnes Havas, the Hungarian gas chambers.) fund's CEO, told the Buda- Whereas straightforward pest Business Journal that filming of an Auschwitz- the film's commercial appeal Birkenausetwouldhaveyield- makes it "the most success- ed "a pornography of death," ful project supported by the astheleadactor, GezaRohrig, film fund." "Son of Saul" is said, the camera focuses on also Hungary's first Oscars ~ the living Sonderkommando nominee since 1988. ~ and scenery, weaving the But the funding from carnage around them into an Hungary is also exposing out-of-focusbutomnipresent "Son of Saul" to criticism by background, those opposed to the right- Though the Claims Con- wing policies of the country's ference provided less than 4 prime minister, ViktorOrban, percent of the total produc- whose government was re- lion cost of"Son of Saul," its centlyaccusedofdownplaying contribution "came in the Hungarian complicity in the final stages of production Holocaust and relegating all when we were really lacking the blame to Germany. money," "Son of Saul" pro- "I wonder if getting money ducer Gabor Sipos said. from the Hungarian state Since 2008, the Claims is a problem for you, or you Conference has spent a total just don't mind," one critical of$2.25million, oranaverage viewer, who accused the gov- of $282,000 a year, to fund ernment of anti-Semitism, educational Holocaust films, saidat apost-screening Q&A. The organization's total an- In replying, Sipos said the nualbudget has ranged from filmmakers were "proud of $700 million to $870 million, the film fund," which they with the vast majority going "hope has nothing to do with toward improving the quality [the policies of] Hungarian of life for Holocaust survivors, government." Of the dozens of films He noted that while re- funded by the Claims Confer- quests for funding "Son of ence, "Son of Saul" is "by far Saul" were "rejected in coun- the most successful in terms tries that are seen to be of return on investment," less anti-Semitic." including Schneider said. It is the first France, Germany and Israel, film funded by the organiza- "the Hungarian film :fund lion that has wona Golden decided to support us, mean- Globe orbeen nominated for ing this film would not have an Oscar. Among others that existed if not for their help." eep Israel Hayom/Exclusive to "Israeli technology will not He added that regardless of JNS.org)--A senior Hamas be able to stop the resistance the tunnel grid, Hamas had official warned Wednesday as long as Hamas exists," "other advanced measures" thatthe Palestinianterrorist Hamas official Mahmoud with which it could fight group's efforts to rebuild the al-Zahar told Oman-based Israel. GazaStrip'sterrortunnelgrid Alwatan News. "Even if Israel The Israeli military had are advancing rapidly, and isable to uncover a tunnel, or destroyedHamas'sterrortun- that some tunnels dug under two, or 10, they [the tunnels] nelnetworkduringOperation the border already run deep run deep under Israel, beyond Protective Edge in the sum- into Israeli territory.Gaza, into 1948 territory." mer of 2014. DISCOVERY AND RECOVERY: PRESERVING IRAQI JEWISH HERITAGE EXTENDED[ Now On View Through March 5, 2016 Exhibition details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community in Iraq from a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters, and the National Archives' recovery work in support of U.S. Government efforts to ~hreserve and make these materials available. is exhibition was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, with generous support from the U.S, Department of State. Local support received from Congregation Beth Jacob, Nancy G. Pastrcff, Kenneth and Barbara Bloom, TIk (Torah case) and Glass Panel from Baghdad,19th-2Oth centuries, MARK PODWAL: ALL THIS HAS COME UPON US... On View Through March 17, 2016 Mark Podwat is best known for his drawings on The New York 77rues OP-ED pages. This exhibition features his depictions of historical threats of antisemitism, from slavery in Egypt through the Holocaust, combined with verses from the Book of Psalms. Exhibition Sponsors. Funding Arts Network, Robert Arthur Segall Foundation, Dr Paul Drucker, Burton Youn , Kenneth and Barbara Bloom, A Song 1948, Psalm 126:5 - Elliot Stone and Bonnie Socke~-Stone, Isabel Bernfeld Anderson, and Anonymous Donor. Those who plant in tears will harvest in joy. ........................................................................................................................................................................ ............................................. -..L..a..d.., d. ....................................... Jewish Museum of Florida 301 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 ~'5 672.5044 ,ewishmuseum. corn info@jew~shmuseumcom ~ _--'-~:.~--~ Open Tuescay-Su~day 10am - 5pro ,-~-eD, H,.A~day.. The Museum is supported by individual contributions, foundations, memberships and grants from the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners and the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council