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  • Holocaust and Genocide Cinema:Crossing Disciplinary, Genre, and Geographical Borders: Editor's Introduction
  • Lawrence Baron (bio)

Inundated by a spate of new Holocaust movies released at the end of 2008, New York Times writer A. O. Scott cleverly titled his column "Never Forget. You're Reminded."1 Despite predictions that media overexposure to the Holocaust eventually will dampen public interest in the subject or reduce its disturbing horrors to comfortable clichés,2 filmmakers continue to gravitate to stories about how Gentiles and Jews responded to the Third Reich's persecution and attempted liquidation of European Jewry before and during World War Two and about how the surviving bystanders, perpetrators, resisters, and victims of this onslaught and their children have coped with the ethical, political, and psychological repercussions of the event since 1945. Over the past decade, nearly 190 feature films employing the Holocaust as their primary or secondary plotline were produced. While constituting thirty fewer Holocaust movies than released in the 1990s, this corpus of works demonstrates the fascination that the "Final Solution" still holds for audiences and directors more than sixty years after it occurred.3 [End Page 1]

Beyond the sheer quantity of such movies, many of them have garnered critical and popular acclaim on global scale. Consider the diversity of countries of production, genres, and themes of the following admittedly idiosyncratic list of one outstanding Holocaust film from each of the last ten years:

  • Divided We Fall, directed by Jan Hrebejk (Czech Republic: 2000). An infertile couple encounter humorous and terrifying situations sheltering a Jewish man in their home under the nose of their collaborationist landlord. Oscar Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film and winner of fifteen international film awards.

  • Nowhere in Africa, directed by Caroline Link (Germany: 2001). A German Jewish family finds refuge from Nazi persecution in Kenya where they are temporarily interned as enemy aliens by the British. Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film and of seventeen other international film awards.

  • The Pianist, directed by Roman Polanski (France, Germany, Poland, United Kingdom: 2002). A renowned Jewish pianist survives the Warsaw Ghetto and hides on the Aryan side of the city with the aid of Polish friends and the spiritual sustenance he derives from music. Winner of three major Oscars, the Golden Palm from the Cannes Film Festival, and over forty other international film awards.

  • Facing Windows, directed by Ferzan Ozpetek (Italy, Portugal, Turkey, United Kingdom: 2003). An unhappily married woman gains perspective on a contemplated affair with an attractive neighbor through her conversations with an elderly Holocaust survivor racked with guilt for deciding to warn the Jewish community about an impending round-up before he told his gay lover. Winner of nineteen international film awards.

  • The Ninth Day, directed by Volker Schlöndorff (Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg: 2004). The SS releases a priest from Dachau and promises him permanent freedom if he can convince the Bishop of Luxembourg to cease criticizing Nazi policies. Otherwise, he will be sent back, his family will be arrested, and the other interned clerics from Luxembourg will be executed. Winner of five international film awards.

  • Fateless, directed by Lajos Kostai (Hungary, Germany, United Kingdom: 2005). A teenage boy interned in German concentration and labor camps recalls both his suffering at the hands of his oppressors and the support he received from fellow inmates. Winner of two international film awards.

  • Black Book, directed by Paul Verhoeven (Belgium, Germany, Netherlands: 2006). A Jewish woman whose family was betrayed and murdered while trying [End Page 2] to escape Holland joins the Dutch Resistance and infiltrates the local Gestapo by seducing its commanding officer. Winner of eleven international film awards.

  • The Counterfeiters, directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (Austria, Germany: 2007). The SS recruits a Jewish counterfeiter to lead a team of other concentration camp inmates involved in a project to forge the British pound and American dollar. Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and three other international film awards.

  • The Reader, directed by Stephen Daldry (Germany, United States: 2008). An adolescent boy and an older German woman strike up an unlikely affair. As a law student years later, he subsequently attends her trial for serving as a guard at Auschwitz...


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