Claude Lanzmann: The Last of the Unjust

The Guardian published a very interesting article Tuesday May 14. Agnès Poirier had seen the new film by legendary Claude Lanzmann about Benjamin Murmelstein, who collaborated with the Nazis as the last Jewish Council President in Theresienstadt. Poirier talks to Lanzmann about Murmelstein and the film that will be shown in Cannes tomorrow. I have taken some quotes from the long article:

… There are two men on a balcony looking out at the panorama of Rome. It is the summer of 1975. “Are you happy in Rome?” says one. “As happy as an exiled Jew can be,” says the other. The man asking the question is Claude Lanzmann. He has just started work on what will take him 10 years to finish: Shoah, the ground-breaking, nine-and-a-half-hour film about the Holocaust, composed of first-hand testimony and eschewing historical footage…

Lanzmann never included Murmelstein in ”Shoah”, now he gets ”his own film”.

… Murmelstein, who called himself “the last of the unjust”, perfectly represented (those) contradictions. His testimony raises a trail of questions, all painfully complex. Indeed, his extraordinary presence, blunt sincerity, acerbic wit and erudition would shake anyone who has inherited history’s prejudices against those Jews who worked with the Nazis. Lanzmann has endeavoured to rehabilitate them. In the preamble to his new film The Last of the Unjust, which will screen at the Cannes film festival on Saturday, he writes that Murmelstein’s revelations never ceased to haunt him, and that the time had come to share them. “Murmelstein was brilliantly intelligent and extraordinarily courageous,” Lanzmann says. “During the week I spent with him, I grew to love him. He does not lie: he is as harsh with others as with himself”…

France, 2013, 220 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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