By Indiewire | Indiewire February 11, 2012 at 12:00PM
In her film, "The Danish Solution," co-directed with Camilla Kjaerulf, filmmaker Karen Cantor reveals how Danish citizens worked to save their Jewish neighbors during World War II. The film is available in its entirety at the bottom of this page courtesy of SnagFilms.
"The Danish Solution"
Directors: Karen Cantor and Camilla Kjaerulf
When Hitler threatened Denmark’s Jews, many Danes spontaneously stood up to German might at a time when most of Europe turned a blind eye.
OK. Now what is it really about?
“The Danish Solution” is about how and why Denmark’s Jews were helped by a spontaneous, massive citizen-driven action. At the end of the war, over ninety-five percent of the Jews of Denmark had survived. Most had gone to Sweden, hidden in fishing boats after the threatened expulsion of Jews was leaked to the populace in the fall of 1943. Others had not been so lucky and had been interred in the Thereisenstadt concentration camp. Although confined, a deal had been made between Danish officials and Eichmann that assured they would not be sent east to the gas chambers. At the end of the war, those returning from the refugee camps in Sweden and the overland transport of white buses filled with Scandinavian prisoners were welcomed home. The film highlights singular characters and looks in-depth at what made Denmark unique among European countries.
How Cantor became a filmmaker...
Making movies, for me, is the ultimate way to tell a story. Engaging an audience means that a platform is established to communicate ideas, facts, meaning, and values. I am enchanted by the very magic of the medium: combining audio and visual fosters the emergence of yet another communicative layer.
My eclectic background was, for sure, the training ground for my becoming a filmmaker: a BA in anthropology that included a minor in fine arts, an MBA, years as a professional photographer working with industry as well as creating my own art photography, working as a qualitative researcher, and marketing director. As a free-lance photographer in a small North Carolina town, I became enamored with doing slide shows with voice over sound tracks and scores for industry. The dream of making my own films was born! Fast forward to when I could muster the will and resources to jump careers and I discovered that, indeed, producing and directing documentary films is my calling.
Separating fact from fiction...
The 1943 rescue of the Danish Jews is an amazing and compelling story that spoke to each of us filmmakers.
A great challenge in making this film was dispelling the legends. The more we learned, the more we realized that what actually happened was more amazing than the stories that had grown up around the events.
Our concern was to tell a compelling yet historically accurate story. Our mission was to convey both the facts and the most up-to-date analyses of what had actually happened. We were fortunate to work with knowledgeable, well-established historians who assured accuracy.
Doing the right thing...
Many Danes acted to save their Jewish neighbors because they believed they were doing the right thing. Many viewers respond to this example of honoring the dignity of other human beings in the face of disaster. Audiences tell us that they are enchanted with this film. They enjoy learning about the complex myriad factors that led to saving almost all of Denmark’s Jewish population, they like hearing the personal stories of those who were part of the rescue, and they are entertained with both the humor and the unfolding of the events.
Many films focusing on the Holocaust and specifically Denmark’s experiences were screened. We learned from each viewing experience.
Since making “The Danish Solution” I have made two documentaries: “Last Rights: Facing End-of-Life Choices” (2009) about the choices terminally-ill patients have and “Invitation to the Muse” (2011) about artists’ experiences of inspiration. My next documentary film project will look at native Americans and their changing cultures as reflected in rates of obesity.
The daunting journey of making a film...
From our experience, making a documentary film is a journey from the idea, through the shadow, to the reality. The journey can be daunting. Continually we were inspired by the rescue of the Danish Jews and the attitudes of the people who came to the aid of their threatened compatriots. The significance of saving more than 7000 people was contrasted with the rescuers saying, “it was nothing – just the right thing to do.”