Jewish Connection Mexico and Israel – Polish director Slawomir Grünberg is in Mexico City to present his latest film: Still life in Lodza documentary in which objects and animations tell transgenerational stories of memory, hatred and survival.
According to the vision of Slavomir Grunbergdocumentary has an educational and social appeal, as well as the potential to change the viewpoints that are held on a subject, even if it is a historical fact seen as holocaust. Such is the case with his latest tape, Still life in Lodzthat a few hours after that interview he gives to Jewish connectionwill be presented to the Jewish community of Mexico.
“The film can help change perspectives because my approach to the subject of holocaust in this particular film, it is different from many other films, even films that I made myself – I made more than a dozen films that dealt with the issues of the Holocaust and about Polish-Jewish relations,” he tells us.
“In this film I deal with the theme of memory and the theme of objects, and through memory and objects we can look at the Holocaust from a different perspective, we can not only appreciate the past, but also bring some new elements into the picture. today’s life.”
An old menorah, an old dentist’s chair, a grand piano and above all an old still life are some of the objects through which the story of various Jewish families that inhabited Lodz until 1968 is told. This intimate relationship between objects and memory seems threatened nowadays, at least if the philosopher Byung Chul Han that in his latest book, non-skilldescribes the landslide the emotional value of objects has suffered in the digital age.
“I agree with the philosopher,” he says Grunberg regarding. “In today’s world, the world of the Internet, the world of the multimedia approach to reality, we are losing touch with the past, and by losing touch with the past, we are losing touch with today’s world. In my film I show how important it is to touch objects that your grandparents or great-grandparents touched or used before when they were alive.’
For the director, “it’s about all those elements of our senses that can’t be detected when you’re sitting in front of the computer. The sense of smell. You enter the space where your grandparents lived or where your father or mother lived (and you live again) the same feeling of street noise. These sensations, this sensory world, define our personality and leave deep traces on us, because “you were created with the senses.”
In the face of electronic devices, we live deprived of reality, far from the real world, from real life, affirms the director, who, among many other awards, has won an Emmy and whose work has traveled the world to build for him prestige in and outside the field of Jewish cinema.
Still life in Lodz is a film that aims to break the mold by tackling a subject that has been the subject of thousands of films, books and other works: holocaust. In addition to using objects as vehicles to trace the story it intends to tell us, Grunberg and his team used a technique that until recently was taboo for those who wanted to make documentaries: animation.
“I used animation in my previous film called Karsky. The masters of mankind, (tape) on Jan Karskia Polish hero who tried to tell the world about the Holocaust, in and out of it London Y WashingtonDC, I’m talking to Roosevelt. So in the movie about Jan Karski we use animation. And then I got really interested in the use of animation in film in general, to the point where, outside of my film career, I turned to my film school where I graduated, a Polish film school, and they and I did a Ph.D. on the topic of the use of animation in documentaries. Now I think it will become a book to help film school and art school students use animation in film.
But when the filmmaker first tried to raise funds to make a documentary involving animation, he was met with more resistance than enthusiasm. “I got a lot of rejections from all kinds of organizations. The same organizations that support this film did not support the previous film because it was 10 years earlier. This was the time when very few films used animation and especially themed films holocaust. (The technique) was practically unknown. Whenever I applied for scholarships in Polandof film institutes in Poland or various scholarship institutions in the United States, the main reason for rejection was animation.
Institutions slowly warmed to the bet he made Waltz with Bashir worldwide success. “That was the movie that obviously inspired me. In the film, I even wanted to work with the animation director, but it didn’t work out because he was busy with another film,” says one Grunberg with a peaceful look, if determined, and explains that today people are already used to using this resource that “can take history to another level”.
in still life in Lodzthe animation serves to recreate moments and sensations that the characters of the documentary tell to the camera, and are complemented by an exquisite film and photographic collection that allows us to compare the streets, squares and buildings of that old Lodz (at one time inhabited by 250,000 Jews) with its historical remains.
Desolate landscapes Lilka —protagonist and co-writer of the film’s script—travels in search of their past, they seem to be haunted by ghosts. The old films, photographs and animations that coexist in the film give life to the streets, warmth to the dead spaces and meaning to the footsteps of those who, as Lilkathey go to their grandparents’ old town to reconstruct the history before the disaster.
Although told from the point of view of a painting and other objects, the Holocaust remains the subject of the film, which today is presented in Mexico Slavomir Grünberg (born in Polandnaturalized American and current resident of the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico). But so is the anti-Semitism that precedes it Shoah and continues to play to this day.
It is a form of hatred that spirals through the story and, according to the director, has no end. “I think it will never stop (…) It happened before, hundreds and hundreds of years ago, it’s still happening today. And unfortunately today even more so. We all fear that the Holocaust experience is not over. We’re all afraid that the new voices, the very strong voices of the anti-Semites, might lead us to something that unfortunately, you know, we’ve been through…”
Even more: “I am a survivor of holocaust second generation, but many people who passed through holocaust they are still alive and I can testify and I do my best to testify through the films I make. So to answer your question, I don’t think it will end. And I think we have to deal with anti-Semitism and do everything we can to educate people, but at the same time we know that (our reach) has limits.
Throughout his career, Grunberg He has dealt with various social, environmental, political and social justice issues. Now based in Mexico, it can be predicted that he will turn his lens on some of the many, many fascinating issues that affect that country. He says he plans to do as soon as he finishes the three films he’s currently working on, with the help of editors collaborating remotely from Europe.
This first film for Mexicowhich may be only one of the “many to come” is related to indigenous peoples and specifically the descendants of the Mayans.
“I met one woman in particular who could be the subject of my documentary. I don’t want to give away too much information, but I did. I was very impressed with the indigenous people I met. They impressed me as much as the Mexicans.”
For Grunbergwhose work you can find on the platforms of streaming most popular, people are essential. “I mean, that’s the main reason I’m here in Mexico, not because of the beautiful beaches hidden portnor because of the weather (…).
Environment is another frequently used motif in cinema Grunberg. As for whether he thinks world governments will act in time to avert climate catastrophe, he is skeptical:
“I don’t think governments are doing everything they can to save the planet. I do not think so. I think governments are doing everything they can to get elected for the next few years and stay in power. “
However, “I believe in action and that one person can change the world. Me, I could tell from the films I made, I was able to change the small worlds I dealt with and also the environmental theme. I made a movie fence line, in the United States, where I lived for almost 40 years, and through this film I was able to save a black community that was suffering tremendously from the presence of the oil industry. So I believe in the actions of people who work for non-profits or in government who can make a difference.
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