EXCLUSIVE: This is the trailer for Claude Lanzmann: Spectres Of The Shoah, a nominee for the best short-form documentary Oscar that also will have its debut on HBO on May 2. Adam Benzine’s film marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Shoah. Lanzmann’s nine-hours-plus documentary is widely regarded as a monumental achievement for its primary use of testimony, rather than archive footage, from both the survivors and perpetrators of the Holocaust (Shoah is another term, and one often preferred, for the Nazis’ “Final Solution” that called for the extermination of European Jewry).
“You cannot finish a film like Shoah exploding with joy,” Claude Lanzmann
Lanzmann, who had worked in the French Resistance movement before falling in with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and other leaders of the French intellectual Left, was an unlikely choice for Shoah, having had no previous experience as a filmmaker. In a sense, that freed him to make his own rules, sometimes to the chagrin of the groups financing what became a years-long project.
“I remember the day the film was finished,” Lanzmann tells Benzine in this powerful 40-minute film. “It was like a bereavement. I knew nothing about the Holocaust. It’s not about survival. Shoah is a film about death at the very limit of humanity. You cannot finish a film like Shoah exploding with joy.”
Lanzmann, who is 90, is expected to attend the Oscars on February 28, for the first time in his career.