This year, April 7-8, marks Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. This solemn day is commemorated annually by Jews around the world, recalling that from June 1941 until the end of the Second World War in Europe in May 1945, one-third of the world’s Jewish population perished in a systematic campaign of annihilation. And this indelible fact still has reverberations today, but I wonder if the ongoing acrimony of crises and issues related to Israel is producing a weariness about the Holocaust.
I ponder this in the light of a frenetic output of recent films about the Holocaust and its impact upon ensuing generations, as the survivors and even their progeny face mortality. These films appear on public television or have short runs in cinema art houses, but many (including some very worthy efforts) never make it beyond the Jewish and general film festival circuits. Perhaps they are just flooding in at a rate that the commercial market cannot accommodate, but I wonder.
Over a year ago, I saw a fairly good fiction film at the Manhattan JCC; its US distributor has been trying unsuccessfully, so far, to find regular venues. I’ve recently seen two films at the New York Jewish Film Festival: one is a documentary on a young artist whose life and death parallel Anne Frank’s, and another is a based-on-fact treatment of a Jewish Oskar Schindler kind of hero — a gripping story. Neither seems to be going anywhere commercially.
You may read my article about these two films at the Jewish Currents website. It was originally
accepted for publication by Tikkun, but after submission, I was told that it should be relegated to its blog, because it didn’t “have much to teach our readers.” I was stunned that portraits of two special victims of the Holocaust wouldn’t be reason enough for an article.
Is this a backlash to what people may experience as overkill on this subject? Or is the public (maybe even many Jews) specifically tired of what may be called “Jewish dramas,” whether involving the Holocaust or Israel in some way? Perhaps the answer is unknowable.
P. S. I see that a new documentary has just been released, “No Place on Earth,” about five Jewish families who survived in a Ukrainian cave for over 500 days. This is reminiscent of the experience of relatives of mine who hid in a farmer’s sub-basement, what they called a bunker, for about 18 months among a group of about 30. One of these cousins — who endured in the bunker as a young child and is now a retired physician living in beautiful Santa Barbara, California — tried to produce a film about this a number of years ago. Edward James Olmos, a star of “Battlestar Galactica,” was mentioned as the narrator, but the project has not come to fruition.