Thursday, January 28, 2010

World Premiere: Review: The Colours of the Holocaust

Yesterday as part of Holocaust Memorial Day the Phoenix Art Museum hosted two screenings of The Colours of the Holocaust. The director of the program, introduced the film as an effort by Rax Rinnekangas, a non Jewish Finnish filmmaker. He first showed a short that introduced the filmmaker and his reasons for making the documentary. Rinnekangas was filmed outside in the snow on a blustery day in Finland. He said that there had been 2,000 Jews in Finland during the war but that eventually 8 other Jewish refugees there had died, and that it doesn’t matter if it was 8,000,000 or 8, it was too many.

The film looks at the longest hatred, anti-Semitism, the world has ever seen with a focus on the crucial moments of its fate – the birth of Aryanism in Europe and its shift to Nazism in the first half of the 20th century. It shows that Organized Evil – the Nazis’ utopist journey to an empire lasting a thousand years – did not occur in a black and white reality, like archive films have taught us, but rather in the same colourful world in which we live today.

Rinnekangas gets big points for marketing. His aim was that “art museums, different institutes and universities in different countries unify themselves into an international humanitarian chain on January 27, 2010 – for the realization of world peace.” Brilliant! Like our project, the chain concept works well here, too. Some of the international screenings took place in the following cities: Canada; FIFA-festival, Montreal ¤ Mexico: The Holocaust Museum, MexĂ­co City; Universidad de Guanajuato, Guanajuato; Instituto Cultural de Leon, Departamento de Cultura de Irapuato ¤ Spain: Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao ¤ Kosovo: The National Library, Pristina ¤ Hungary: The Holocaust Museum, Budapest; Little Theatre, Budapest ¤ Finland: Amos Anderson Art Museum Helsinki; The Aleksanteri Institute, Helsinki; Andorra Culture Complex, Helsinki; Arkadia International Bookshop, Helsinki; Didrichsen Museum of Art and Culture, Helsinki; Veturitalli –Salo Art Museum, Salo; The K.H. Renlund Museum, Kokkola; Saarijarvi Art Museum, Saarijarvi; Oulu Film Centre, Oulu; University of Lapland, Rovaniemi ¤

The film was shown through Rinnekangas’s eyes. He said has spent much time taking photographs of concentration camps over his life. He filmed Internet searches to his history questions to illustrate the development of Aryanism and eventually Nazism. At times it seemed very elementary – making a pot of coffee, his fat fingers pecking at the keyboard, the use of typical pictures and basic war footage.. and at other times it was incredibly touching to appreciate the efforts of a Christian(?) man who was simply haunted by the events of the Holocaust that preceeded his birth and wanted to do his part to stop anti-semetism and Holocaust denial. This, truly is the key to the film. Rax Rinnekangas is a mensch, and his film should be appreciated for his efforts.

The film was a low budget documentary with dark current day shots and black and white historic footage and includes subtitles. Although the filmmaker’s web site says the film is “addressed especially to new generations” unfortunately I just can’t see younger audiences watching this film unless it was in an educational setting where they were “encouraged” by a teacher or a grade.

It is not only critical for non Jewish filmmakers like Rinnekangas to make their version of this art to keep the conversation alive, but for others like us to make feature films purposefully designed to tell true stories in a more exciting fashion to keep the interest of young audiences. In stark contrast, we hope our upcoming film project, An Unbroken Chain, will not only have a successful national and international run in theaters but a huge shelf life in schools and universities due to our efforts to make a compelling educational tool by developing partnerships, and conducting research and conversations with educational organizations, teachers, and students.

image: Auchwitz, Poland 2000, copyright: Rax Rinnekangas

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