This week we’re releasing four films that deal with Zionism, the birth of Israel after the war, morality in the case of Adolf Eichmann & a portrait of Jewish settlers on the West Bank—quite a unique constellation of films in the streaming universe.
We also have the internationally acclaimed artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien’s FRANTZ FANON: BLACK SKIN WHITE MASK. Julien’s work is held in collections that include Tate; MoMA; Centre Pompidou; the Guggenheim, and other prestigious art institutions. In this particular work, Julien explores, for the first time on film, the pre-eminent theorist of the anti-colonial movements of this century.
In addition, we’ve also released Lee Isaac Chung’s MUNYURANGABO—”the first narrative feature made in Rwanda’s native language of Kinyarwanda.” This film is an intense and inspiring portrait of youth in the country and features Poet Laureate Edouard Uwayo delivering a moving poem about his healing country. Roger Ebert called it a “masterpiece.”
About Executing Eichmann
Directed by Florence Jammot; Documentary
On December 15, 1961, in Jerusalem, Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death for crimes against the Jewish people and against humanity. Eichmann had played a central role in the mass deportation of Jews to Nazi extermination camps, and the judgment of the court was largely met favorably. But a group of Holocaust survivors and intellectuals, including Hannah Arendt, Hugo Bergmann, Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem, called for Eichmann’s sentence to be commuted. By opposing Eichmann’s execution, they felt they were defending the values of Judaism, and raised questions about Jewish morality, and the very nature of a Jewish State.
ABOUT EXECUTING EICHMANN examines their arguments, bringing together texts, eyewitness accounts, archival footage, audio recordings, and materials from the time, along with discussions amongst contemporary Israeli historians and philosophers, including historians Anita Shapira and Hanna Yablonka, and philosophers Moshe Halbertal and Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin.
And There Was Israel
Directed by Romed Wyder; Documentary
Director Romed Wyder delves into the history of Zionism from the writings of Theodore Herzl to the expulsion of Palestinians from hundreds of villages following the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. Our guides to this fascinating history are seven academics from the fields of history, sociology, law, and political science, and Middle Eastern studies, each of whom are also talented storytellers. Their narratives of the decades leading up to the formation of Israel are punctuated with British, French, and American newsreels, along with rarely seen footage from within the early United Nations, as the question of partitioning Palestine into separate states comes to the floor.
As a Young Girl of Thirteen
Directed by Elisabeth Coronel, Florence Gaillard, & Arnaud de Mezamat; Documentary
Holocaust survivor Simone Lagrange recounts in detail her life before the war, her deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and her role in bringing Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie to justice.
Essentially an extended conversation interspersed with archival images and earlier footage of Lagrange, AS A YOUNG GIRL OF 13 is an engaging portrait of a woman determined to never let her spirit be broken. As a schoolgirl, she threw an inkwell at a teacher who singled out the Jews in her classroom. At Auschwitz she squeezed ink out of the identification number tattooed on her arm. In an anteroom to the gas chambers, potentially moments from death, she refused to stand for a the camp commandant, so infuriating him that he slapped her and had her taken out of his sight—thereby saving her life. Simone Lagrange’s story echoes that of many Holocaust survivors. But what truly makes this documentary outstanding is her perceptiveness and the sharpness of her memory and undeniable gift as a storyteller.
Directed by Shimon Dotan; Documentary
The story of Israeli settlements in the West Bank is an intriguing, unavoidable feature of modern Israeli life: complex and elusive in its early years, and increasingly wild and tragic as the years go by. It is a story that has been with us for almost half a century, and still shows no sign of resolving itself. Much like the Occupation itself, the settlement phenomenon has received extensive coverage in the media. But this coverage tends to focus on fallout, and rarely on the ideological and historical forces that led to the creation of the settlements and with them, the unflinching grip that Israel has on the West Bank, a grip that has become the new hallmark of a society once founded on the ideals of secular liberalism and equality.
Combining history and headlines, THE SETTLERS is the first comprehensive look at the meeting point, where radicals, idealists, messianic fanatics, true believers and political opportunists, living on the fault lines of an age-old conflict, come face to face with history itself.
Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Mask
Directed by Isaac Julien; Documentary
This innovative film biography restores Fanon to his rightful place at the center of contemporary discussions around post-colonial identity. Isaac Julien, the celebrated black British director of such provocative films as LOOKING FOR LANGSTON and YOUNG SOUL REBELS, integrates the facts of Fanon’s brief but remarkably eventful life with his long and tortuous inner journey. Julien elegantly weaves together interviews with family members and friends, documentary footage, readings from Fanon’s work and dramatizations of crucial moments in Fanon’s life. Cultural critics Stuart Hall and Françoise Verges position Fanon’s work in his own time and draw out its implications for our own.
Directed by Lee Isaac Chung; Narrative
After stealing a machete from a market in Kigali, Munyurangabo and his friend, Sangwa, leave the city on a journey tied to their pasts. Munyurangabo wants justice for his parents who were killed in the genocide, and Sangwa wants to visit the home he deserted years ago. Though they plan to visit Sangwa’s home for just a few hours, the boys stay for several days. From two separate tribes, their friendship is tested when Sangwa’s wary parents disapprove of Munyurangabo, warning that “Hutus and Tutsis are supposed to be enemies.”
Directed by Dieudo Hamadi; Documentary
Follow a group of young students in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the months leading up to the national exam.
As the exam date approaches, the principal visits the students and implores them to return so he can pay the school’s staff. Meanwhile, the young scholars have discovered that the key to passing the exam may not lie in studying, but in finding a trusted source who can leak them the answers. Director Dieudo Hamadi grew up in Kisangani and was one of the half a million Congolese students who took the national exam each year. NATIONAL DIPLOMA is a closely observed film that offers no overt political commentary as it chronicles the hypocrisy, anxiety and distortion in a deeply colonial system.
They Are We
Directed by Emma Christopher, PhD; Icarus Films, Documentary
THEY ARE WE is the story of a remarkable reunion, 170 or so years after a family was driven apart by the ravages of the transatlantic slave trade.
In Central Cuba, proud members of the Ganga-Longoba, a small Afro-Cuban ethnic group, have kept their unique heritage alive. Incredibly, through decades of brutal enslavement, independence wars, and then the denying of all religions after the revolution, they have retained a collection of distinct songs and dances that one of their ancestors brought from Africa as a slave.