IFC Films is re-releasing Claude Lanzmann’s nine-and-a-half hour landmark French documentary, Shoah to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary. On December 10 the film will screen at New York City’s Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and at the IFC Center on Christmas Eve; it will break nationally in the new year.
The epic film, which took Lanzmann twelve years to make, features interviews (not historical footage) with Holocaust survivors, perpetrators and bystanders from fourteen different countries, and re-visits Holocaust crime locations. When he first presented the film in 1985, Lanzmann announced: “Making a history was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to construct something more powerful than that. And, in fact, I think that the film, using only images of the present, evokes the past with far more force than any historical document.” He is now thrilled to see the film presented by IFC to New York audiences again:
“Museums come to terms with death and institute forgetting as well as memory. On the contrary, Shoah, because it is an incarnation, because nothing will ever replace Abraham Bomba’s tears, Filip Müller’s reverberating voice, or the minute-by-minute description of the executions in Treblinka by the Unterscharführer Franz Suchomel or Polish train conductor Henrik Gavkowski, SHOAH is an absolute barricade, the true wall against oblivion. Memory is reactivated every time SHOAH is presented in the world, in Europe, in Asia, in America. IFC Films’ decision to re-release Shoah theatrically with two new 35mm prints after 25 years is, for me, like a new birth for the film. For years, Shoah has been incomprehensibly absent from New York’s cinemas. It is high time to show it again, and I thank the young distributors at IFC Films for having understood this.”