CONFERENCE: Filming the Unimaginable? The Representation of the Holocaust in Cinema, from 1945 to the 1980s
In collaboration with the Centre National de l’Audiovisuel (CNA)
Web 16/03 at 18:30
In the context of the theatrical release of the Luxembourgish film “Le Chemin du Bonheur” (The Way to Happiness) by Nicolas Steil, in collaboration with the Centre National de l’Audiovisuel (CNA).
The Holocaust (also known by the Hebrew word “Shoah”), stands for the exclusion, persecution, and ultimately the systematic extermination of Jews by Nazi Germany. This genocide constitutes an event that is as painful as it is central to the recent history of humankind.
Since the realisation and acknowledgment of the scale of this massacre and the methods (often industrial) employed by the National-Socialists to put in place their plan for the so-called “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” in extermination camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau, many debates have taken place to discuss the possibilities and limits of the cinematic representations. Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, writer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, wrote in the 1980s: “One does not imagine the unimaginable. And in particular, one does not show it on screen.”
Nevertheless, since 1945, innumerable documentaries, films, and TV productions, European and American, have tried to retrace and represent the experience and the realities of the concentration and extermination camps of the “Third Reich”. How have these works approached the task of rendering tangible the incommensurable and unimaginable?
This cinema-conference will be held in French and, complemented by multiple interspersed film clips, will offer a historic survey of the representation of the Holocaust in cinema, from 1945 to the 1980s.
Chaired by Yves Steichen, historian at the Centre national de l’audiovisuel (CNA)
Date: March 16, 2022
Time: 18:30 – 20:00pm
Free entrance / Reservations required:
Address: Auditorium Cité, 3 Rue Genistre, 1623 Luxembourg
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: Finding « The Way to Happiness »
In collaboration with MemoShoah and the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah
Mon 21/03 at 18:30
In the context of the theatrical release of the Luxembourgish film “Le Chemin du Bonheur” (The Way to Happiness) by Nicolas Steil, in collaboration with MemoShoah and the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah (FLMS).
More than 75 years after the Second World War, only few direct time witnesses of the Holocaust are still with us, while most of these survivors lived through this painful period of our history as children. Iris Productions, MemoShoah, and the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah invite you to a roundtable discussion where two of these survivors will share their life paths and how they were able to find happiness following the experiences they had to endure in the past.
We invite you to meet:
- Henri Roanne Rosenblatt, Former film critic and documentary filmmaker, Henri Roanne- Rosenblatt, was put on a Kindertransport from Vienna to Brussels at the age of 6, several months after the Kristallnacht. After staying with a foster family, Henri lived in hiding from 1942 to 1944. This experience inspired his novel “Le cinéma de Saül Birnbaum”, which became the basis for the film adaptation “Le Chemin du Bonheur” (The Way to Happiness), directed by Nicolas Steil.
- Claude Marx, Former president of the Jewish Consistory of Luxembourg, former co-president and founding member of MemoShoah, Claude Marx was evacuated from Nancy in 1940 at the age of 6. Alongside his family, he was relocated to a small town in central France. In 1943, with raids and roundups targeting Jews becoming increasingly more threatening, Claude’s neighbours hid him in their attic, at the risk of their freedom and life. They were awarded the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations after the war.
- Robabe Sharifi, an Afghan refugee woman who has been living for three years with there son in Luxembourg in a center in Schifflange. In 2019, she crossed Iran, Turkey, Greece and Germany to arrive in the Grand Duchy.
- Laurent Moyse, Moderator of the roundtable discussion, President of the Luxembourg Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah, and a graduate in Journalism and Communications, as well as Economics, Laurent Moyse is an independent journalist and author of multiple books. He is committed to the preservation of the memory of the victims of the Second World War. Within that context, he is the author of numerous articles, radio chronicles, and conferences.
Date: March 21, 2022
Time: 18:30 – 20:30
Address: Auditorium Cité, 3 Rue Genistre, 1623 Luxembourg
Free entrance / Reservation required:
CINEMA-DEBATE: Resilience through Cinema
In collaboration with the Luxembourg City Cinémathèque
Wed 30/03 at 19:00
How can we live with the abandonment of our parents, who are supposed to be there for us and love us unconditionally? By inventing another world, a different reality. By living in a lucid dream that is, incessantly and day by day, reconstructed all over again. It prevents us from thinking about our original trauma, gives us a thirst for life, while approaching the other with as little risk as possible.
The love Saül carries for cinema paves the way to his resilience. It helps him to rebuild and get back a so-called “normal” life, following a trauma during his childhood – the abandonment by his parents, caused by the Jewish extermination. Reputed psychologists and psychoanalysts, including Boris Cyrulnik, have looked into the question of resilience and unanimously agree about the level of difficulty in finding the proper means to achieve it. In “Le Chemin du Bonheur” (The Way to Happiness), the affectionate passion of Saül helps in healing his wounds, while cinema plays a central role in the psychological reconstruction of this character.
“Le Chemin du Bonheur” (The Way to Happiness) is a story that teaches us to never, ever abandon love!
► The screening of the film is followed by a debate:
With Laurent Jullier (French film theorist and professor of Film Studies at the University of Nancy), Bruno Humbeeck (PhD in Education Sciences from the University of Rouen) and lecturer at the University of Mons), Gilbert Pregno (President of the Luxembourg Advisory Committee on Human Rights), and Nicolas Steil (Luxembourgish author, stage and film director, and producer) | around 60’ | language: French
Time: 19:00 – 22:00 pm
The screening will be followed by a debate.
Address: Luxembourg City Cinémathèque, 17 Place du Théâtre, 2613 Luxembourg.
Entrance: full € 3,70 ; reduced € 2,40
Michel Fessler & Henri Roanne-Rosenblatt
in collaboration with Nicolas Steil
Iris Productions (LU), Iris Films (BE), Tu Vas Voir (FR)
Belga Productions, RTBF, Voo & BeTv
With the support of
Film Fund Luxembourg
Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles
Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique via Belga Film Fund
In the end there is only love that can save us
How can we live with the abandonment of our parents, who are supposed to be there and love us unconditionally?
By inventing another world, a different reality, by living in a lucid dream that is, incessantly and day by day, reconstructed all over again.
It prevents us from thinking about our original trauma, gives us a thirst for life, while approaching others with as little risk as possible.
Saül Birnbaum is a “hidden child”, one of those who, at the age of only 6, had to be separated from his parents to escape the impending Shoah and be sent abroad by a so-called “Kindertransport”, from Vienna to Brussels.
In 1986, Saül is on the path to resilience. He reinvents his life and tries to re-enchant it by opening a delicatessen, unlike any other, where the 7th art of cinema triumphs, through permanent renditions on the stage of this restaurant, every single day. Saül and his protégé Joakin, a young Chilean director who fled from Pinochet, decide to write the story of Saül’s childhood and turn it into a film, allowing both of them to “heal” just a little more.
Alas, love comes knocking on Saül’s door and he is confronted with his past. She loves him, he loves her, she disappears, he loses himself, she comes back to him, he is reinvigorated, she abandons him again, he despairs…
The Way to Happiness is a story that teaches us to never, ever abandon love!
SOME CONTEXTUAL INDICATIONS
How do we survive and overcome past trauma?
Such is the question that lies at the foundation of our main protagonists – Saül, Hannah, Ed, Joakin and his mother Beatriz… who have all experienced trauma they are trying to recover from.
But beyond this, our characters are confronted with the difficulty of forgiveness: will they be able to forgive and forget while moving forward and making peace with their past and the memories that haunt them? That is the question that lies at the heart of The Way to Happiness.
Humour, a vital element
By appealing to humour, the film places itself outside of conventional representations of the Shoah in films. Without nonetheless downplaying the severity of this period, the film produces a shift by relying on an evocation of history, rather than a reconstitution of it. The facts are thus brought to the screen in terms of memories, which are never the exact representation of reality but, just as in a memory, there is a blend of reality and the imaginary.
Cinema – the solidifying element of resilience
Beyond the pleasure of finding and recognising numerous references to cinema throughout the entirety of the film, The Way to Happiness wants to depict cinema as its own character: it is through cinema that the characters meet and connect; cinema is the link between them and the balm that heals their wounds.
… The place where the magic of cinema operates? The Delicatessen NEW MANHATTAN: this temple of the seventh art is the heart of a stirring film in the manner of a musical comedy.
The Way to Happiness, an ode to life and love
The Way to Happiness is a film that deals, above all else, with love(s) – in all its forms.
Whether it is the love between a man and a woman, the love of a father or mother for their biological or adopted children, the love for cinema, friendship … or even self-love: the characters all have this guiding principle in common, which at the end of the day dictates their behaviours. The message of the film thus being that only love can save us.
The Way to Happinessis a film that celebrates life, notwithstanding pain and past traumas.
It is a film that wants to uplift us!
MICHEL VUILLERMOZ de la comédie française
ROBERT DE TRÉVIGNAC
PIERRE ASLON / DANIEL SILBERSTEIN
PRESENTATION OF THE DIRECTOR
AUTHOR, DIRECTOR :
Nicolas Steil has directed five plays at the theater: Combats by Carlos Battle Jordà (2001), La Jeune Fille et la Mort by April Dorfman (2003), L’Affaire Suberville (2004), Table Rase by Jean-Louis Schlesser (2005) and Central Park West by Woody Allen (2007).
He collaborated as a writer on Andy Bausch’s Club des Chômeurs, Baby(A)lone directed by Donato Rotunno and his own first feature film, Réfractaire, released in 2009. The film has participated in more than thirty festivals international and won six awards. The Way to Happiness is his second feature film.
THE WAY TO HAPPINESS | FICTION FEATURE FILM | 2021
THE UNDERCOVER WAR | FICTION FEATURE FILM | 2009
Nicolas Steil launches his professional career in the 1980s as a print journalist. He carries out numerous field reports, particularly in Lebanon, which encourage him to become a television reporter. Thus, in 1983, he starts working for RTL TV, first as a reporter and later as television news presenter. He goes on to become director and producer of documentaries.
In 1986, he starts his own production company, IRIS PRODUCTIONS, by which he produces and directs documentaries, television programmes, as well as advertising films before moving towards the movies with the production of fictional feature and animation films, as well as documentaries.
Over the years, the IRIS GROUP has grown with subsidiaries in Belgium, Germany and France through Rezo Films.
Nicolas Steil has now produced and co-produced more than fifty films.
IRIS GROUP brings together production and distribution companies in Luxembourg, France, Germany, and Belgium. Today, having curated a reputation in production and distribution, the group has become a staple as a strategic player on the market of European cinema. The origins of the group date back to 1986, when Nicolas Steil founded IRIS PRODUCTIONS, one of the first production companies in Luxembourg.
Iris Group includes IRIS PRODUCTIONS DEUTSCHLAND in Berlin, IRIS FILMS and IRIS FILMS PRODUCTIONS in Brussels. In 2011, the group enters into an equity partnership with REZO FILMS, a well-established distribution company in France since more than twenty years. The distribution company also includes a production department, REZO PRODUCTIONS.
IRIS GROUP has co-produced with French, Belgian, Swiss, Quebecois, Austrian, Italian, German, Dutch, English, and Irish partners. Since a few years, the group has also focused on the production of TV series.
As of today, IRIS GROUP has produced and co-produced more than one hundred works, sold more than 250 films internationally and has distributed more than 300 films in France.
THE WAY TO HAPPINESS (2021)
Long-métrage de fiction réalisé par Nicolas Steil – Iris Group (LU, BE), Tu Vas Voir (FR)
BAD BANKS SEASON 2 (2020)
TV series directed by Christian Zübert – Letterbox Filmproduktion (DE), Iris Productions (LU), Real Film Berlin (DE) – 2020
FAMILLE NUCLEAIRE (2020)
Short film directed by Faustine Crespy – Iris Films (BE)
NEVER GROW OLD (2019)
Feature film directed by Ivan Kavanagh – Ripple World Pictures (IE), Iris Group (LU, BE, FR)
Feature film directed by Jayro Bustamante – Tu Vas Voir (FR), La Casa de Producción (GU), Iris Productions (LU), Memento Films (FR) & Arte France Cinéma (FR) – 2019
PAUVRE GEORGES! (2018)
Feature film directed by Claire Devers – Mon Voisin Productions (FR), Iris Films (BE), Forum Films (CA)
CLASH OF FUTURES: 1918-1939 (2018)
TV series directed by Jan Peter & Frédéric Goupil – LOOKSfilm (DE), Les Films d’Ici (FR), Iris Group (LU, BE)
JUSTICE_DOT_NET / DARK JUSTICE (2018)
Feature film directed by Pol Cruchten – Iris Productions (LU), Lyla Films (CA), Ripple World Pictures (IE)
BAD BANKS – SEASON 1 (2018)
TV series directed by Christian Schwochow – Letterbox Filmproduktion (DE), Iris Productions (LU)
Feature film directed by Dennis Bots – Phanta Basta (NL), Iris Productions (LU), Bulletproof Cupid (BE)
Feature film directed by Florian Gallenberger – Majestic Filmproduktion (DE), Iris Group (LU, FR), Rat Pack Filmproduktion (DE), Fred Films (UK)
THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (2015)
Feature film directed by Stephan Rick – Port au Prince Film & Kultur Produktion (DE), Iris Productions (LU)
SUNSET SONG (2015)
Feature film directed by Terence Davies – Hurricane Films (UK), Iris Productions (LU), Sellout Pictures (UK)
Feature film directed by Donato Rotunno – Iris Group (LU, BE)
THE UNDERCOVER WAR (2009)
Feature film directed by Nicolas Steil – Iris Productions (LU), Cab Productions (CH)