Flamboyant and full of life, Jewish prisoner Helena Citron found herself the subject of an unlikely affection at Auschwitz: Franz Wunsch, a high-ranking SS officer who fell in love with Helena and her magnetic singing voice. Their forbidden relationship lasted until her miraculous liberation.
Thirty years later, a letter arrived from Wunsch’s wife begging Helena to testify on Wunsch’s behalf in an Austrian court. She was faced with an impossible decision: should she help the man who brutalized so many lives, but saved hers, along with some of the people closest to her?
Follow her journey in Love It Was Not, a new film from Israeli director Maya Sarfaty and Austrian-Israeli producing team Nir Sa’ar and Kurt Langbein (distributed by Greenwich Entertainment). The film premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in 2020 and won best feature film at Docaviv.
This post-screening discussion features Sarfaty and Langbein in conversation with Columbia University film professor Annette Insdorf. The discussion is co-presented by the Museum, the Austrian Cultural Forum, and the Israel Office of Cultural Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
Watch the program below.
This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.
Ari Goldstein: i'm Ari Goldstein Senior Public programs producer at the Museum of Jewish heritage 11 memorial to the Holocaust.
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Ari Goldstein: And about half of the museum it's a pleasure to welcome you to today's discussion we're here to discuss love it was not powerful new film from Israeli director minus 40 and Austrian Israeli producing team near SAR and Kurt link by.
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Ari Goldstein: Hopefully you all had a chance to watch the film in advance of today's discussion, if you didn't it will remain available for another 24 hours at the link in the zoom chat, we hope that you do.
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Ari Goldstein: All of us at the museum are grateful and delighted to be co presenting the film and discussion with our partners at the Austrian Cultural Forum and the office of cultural affairs at the consulate general of Israel New York.
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Ari Goldstein: you'll hear from in just a moment and we're also grateful to Greenwich entertainment for helping to facilitate the screening and discussion.
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Ari Goldstein: today's discussion will include Maya and Kurt and we facilitated by Dr a net in store.
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Ari Goldstein: Who is a professor of film at Columbia university's school of the arts and Moderator of the popular real pieces series that manhattan's 92 why she's interviewed almost 300 films celebrities.
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Ari Goldstein: The daughter of Holocaust survivors net is the author of the landmark study indelible shadows film and the Holocaust.
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Ari Goldstein: Double lives second chances the cinema of your stuff keeps last fi Prince watch Truffaut study of the French directors work.
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Ari Goldstein: Philip Philip Kaufman and intimations the cinema of whoa check has her latest book is Cinematic overtures how to read opening scenes currently in its fourth printing.
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Ari Goldstein: And that will kick off the discussion in a moment, but before she does let's hear from our partners at the Austrian Cultural Forum and the Israel.
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Ari Goldstein: The office of cultural affairs at the consulate general of Israel in New York, thank you all for being here and on one more thing, please feel free to share questions in the zoom Q amp a box throughout the discussion.
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Ari Goldstein: And we'll get to as many as we can, during this short period at the end, thank you all.
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Booni Cohavi: Good afternoon, on behalf of the consumer general officers in New York, it is an honor for me to take part in this important event.
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Booni Cohavi: I would like to thank the Museum of Jewish heritage for many years of fruitful partnership, and especially the successful events with which we have during covered 19 pandemic, thanks to our Goldstein who led the project from their side.
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Booni Cohavi: Thank you, Michael Schneider from the Austrian Cultural Forum for your willingness to present this project together.
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Booni Cohavi: We appreciate the opportunity to work together and build a relationship in hopes of collaborations thanks your net it installs from Columbia University for taking part in this event, and for your continued support and involvement in Israeli cinema.
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Booni Cohavi: Thank to Greenwich entertainment no data for have it for the collaboration that allows us to present this film.
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Booni Cohavi: And last but not least, I want to thank Dan users are created, creative and dedicated director of film and television, for his hard work that made this event happened.
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Booni Cohavi: My late mother ever have a here she was born in Vienna in 1927 to a Jewish simulated family she spent her formative years in get a terrorism at Auschwitz, and a Labor camp for women in Germany.
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Booni Cohavi: For many years, I failed to convince her to tell me more about her experiences and how she survived the Holocaust.
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Booni Cohavi: So I surely understand how difficult it was for the survivors to tell the story, as it is for us to understand.
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Booni Cohavi: The movie love it was not is about recounting and sharing it's about telling the love story not like the ones from Hollywood productions, but the ones from depth of help from Auschwitz.
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Booni Cohavi: Through the love that story between Atlanta citron in France punch in a place where humanity was extinct, we can learn more and something about ourselves as human beings.
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Booni Cohavi: during difficult days for us in Israel films of this kind carefully constructed from meticulous research work and exceptional autistics means.
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Booni Cohavi: allow for a complex look at moral issues and we believe that art is the best medium to transmit this little message it's an honor to be involved in one of the first us screen of this important film directed by Maya safadi and produced by court language in yourself, thank you very much.
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Michael Haider: Thank you so much, let me it is on behalf of the Austrian Cultural Forum here in New York, a great honor and.
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Michael Haider: a privilege to be able to participate in the project and therefore my great thanks to the Israeli consulate general and to the Museum of Jewish Jewish heritage to make this possible.
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Michael Haider: i'm a historian by myself and I have to admit, when I saw the movie for the first time it was same as incredible as astonishing.
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Michael Haider: Because it might help for a better understanding, not on the what survivors experienced during the Holocaust, especially what the experience afterwards.
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Michael Haider: And what their children had to experience and the sad part of the messages that we deliberation in 1945 it was far from being over when we started the project.
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Michael Haider: i'm happy that we are today at this discussion we couldn't foresee that today survivors and their children in Israel are facing day by day of tablets that barrel gets and I can assure you, Austria solidarity.
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Michael Haider: Thank you Maya surfactant could long, then, for your amazing book.
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Michael Haider: Thank you, a net so.
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Michael Haider: Sharing now this discussion i'm looking for what Thank you so much.
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Annette Insdorf: Well i'm honored and delighted to be part of this event because I found love it was not to be such a fascinating documentary.
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Annette Insdorf: About a surprising love story i've not really heard about a Jewish Auschwitz prisoner like ELENA and an SS officer, like France phones being able to connect in a place like Auschwitz.
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Annette Insdorf: I congratulate my asr 40 for a bold approach, because what made the film really work for me is the self conscious style of those cutouts.
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Annette Insdorf: Together with interviews you reconstruct a fragmented past in which prisoners minds and bodies were not necessarily in harmony, could you tell us how you chose this unique style of photo montage.
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Maya Sarfaty: Good evening, and I thank you, thank you for being here with us finding the time a thank you for the audience to to be here with us, listening to us and everybody else, of course.
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Maya Sarfaty: And well a when we came we first came to to to work on this film to start working on this film The first challenge, we had a is the same challenge.
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Maya Sarfaty: Every filmmaker that makes a documentary about the Holocaust is facing, which is the lack of footage and we have a very small amount of footage from Auschwitz.
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Maya Sarfaty: And when the Americans and the Russians came to close to Auschwitz, and the Germans, a burn it all burnt it all it estimation, that only 5% of the material is survived, and this 5% we know very, very good.
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Maya Sarfaty: And it's hard to say it's even bit of, sad to say, but it's it's worn out, we know these pictures they don't move us they don't and.
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Maya Sarfaty: makes us feel a it's black and white it's old the piles of the shoes of the clothes so and the other thing is it's in my three protagonists are not alive.
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Maya Sarfaty: And I can feel them, I can bring them together, I can take them to places what any documentary filmmaker wants to do so, I don't have the means to tell the story.
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Maya Sarfaty: And so we started looking for our Cinematic approach and and and it actually was like in the movies, and I woke up a in the middle of the night and Neil sal the Israeli producer is also my husband, so it was just next to me.
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Maya Sarfaty: woke up and I have it, I have it, the answer is within the story and I don't have to to do anything else, just to work with.
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Maya Sarfaty: With the with the elements in the story because France vonage for the most of his life made this photo montage of lana a place trying different closing and different different backgrounds.
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Maya Sarfaty: I believe it was a way for him to imagine, and as tentative life in which they could have had been together.
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Maya Sarfaty: And bit of name I would say, and but France did it in order to see the pictures he wanted to see.
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Maya Sarfaty: And I borrowed and developed a technique in order to see the pictures, I wanted to see.
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Maya Sarfaty: And we looked a.
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Maya Sarfaty: All over the world, literally all over the world for the artists to work with we looked in America in Austria, obviously in Spain in and Poland.
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Maya Sarfaty: And, of course, obviously, and eventually a I worked with two wonderful artists Israeli artists neighbors on host in Tel Aviv, a little Banda instrument gopher.
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Maya Sarfaty: And we work with really kind of photos from the period from the war in the camps and we made this kind of 3D multi layered photo montage you can say.
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Maya Sarfaty: A it was all and made in short in a studio not not exactly all I will show you some a behind the scenes, a photos.
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Maya Sarfaty: So it will help us to understand and in the first stage, I took a all ultimate archival materials and make this a to the dimension digital a illustrations of the scenes, we wanted to and.
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Maya Sarfaty: To have in the film and in the second stage show meet took took the pictures and and a broke it to to the layers we call the two and a half, these a because.
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Maya Sarfaty: Everyday mentioned was still a paper cuts, but they were a place a a in in on the maquette a, as you can see here mechanic a small model of offstage and then we took it into the studio and then we.
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Maya Sarfaty: shot it and shot all the scenes, the camera was a.
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Maya Sarfaty: Was between the layers over the layers under the legacy a almost every every possible way, a we had a.
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Maya Sarfaty: And, and that the way they cutters was the cut out was made, it was very important to me that it will be very.
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Maya Sarfaty: clear to the audience when they are looking on a really Kaiser footage because we do have pictures from.
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Maya Sarfaty: Auschwitz, and when they're looking at a illustration and imaginary illustration of my imagination We walked with a.
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Maya Sarfaty: historical facts and we based our illustrations on on the women's testimonies but it's still the way I imagined it i'm not sure this is how it was.
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Maya Sarfaty: Even though I must say I got very good reactions from survivors that it felt that it feels and a a quite an accurate and for them.
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Maya Sarfaty: It felt quite accurate for them, and so, and made a style the rough a rough cutting of the paper a is for the audience a to be able to distinguish between a missionary illustration and real archival footage.
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Annette Insdorf: It works beautifully and I must say what a surprise, it was to see the daughter Dagmar saying about the photo that her father was the SS officer who took it.
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Annette Insdorf: And she says she was the love of his life, he took the head off and put it on different clothes, so that line not only validates your approach but.
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Annette Insdorf: I love the way that the layers of the street what really happened and of your approach came together so wonderful example of how, as they say.
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Annette Insdorf: The limitations define the possibilities you don't have a high voltage you create something even more visually dramatic and enticing Could you also tell us, before I get to Kurt Lang vine.
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Annette Insdorf: How this project originally What was it that first drew you to the story of Helena sutra and how did you find out about it.
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Maya Sarfaty: yeah well a I believe I was only seven or eight, when I first heard the story and Mickey marine she's was his daughter a she was my first acting teacher, when I was just a little child.
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Maya Sarfaty: She trusted the story into my hands and actually try to tell it in many forms and all kind of made us along the years.
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Maya Sarfaty: But it never felt right it never felt and accurate and five years ago Mickey and I contacted dogma there says officers daughter.
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Maya Sarfaty: And when we learned that she's very open and willing to talk and to cooperate.
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Maya Sarfaty: And when she gave me his diaries and home videos when I, the first time and it's the first time I opened my.
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Maya Sarfaty: laptop laptop and found a in my email a this.
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Maya Sarfaty: SS officers testimony Francisco and sitting in his backyard, in a short shorts talking freely and about his past about about Mengele.
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Maya Sarfaty: And I realized I realized that I have a unique access.
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Maya Sarfaty: To this story, and I believe that was the point in which I realized I finally have the means to tell the full and complete story of the Leonard France and Rosa.
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Maya Sarfaty: and
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Maya Sarfaty: started working night.
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Annette Insdorf: Okay.
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Annette Insdorf: Now for cortland bank, you are the son of herrmann Lang buying, who was a non Jewish resistance fighter and Auschwitz survivor and along with Simon Wiesenthal he led the struggle.
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Annette Insdorf: To bring to trial Austrian SS who served in the camps, including crohn's four inch at what point did you get involved in this film.
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Kurt Langbein: But it was I think in 2017 it was rather early stage racing and at first Maya contacted me.
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Kurt Langbein: Because i'm the son of a mutt Lange fan for research and then see children to know that i'm also a film producer, so it came, step by step.
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Kurt Langbein: ag came involved in the project and it was really very fascinating from the beginning, we you know my father did a lot of historic and psychological and social work about Auschwitz, and the SS.
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Kurt Langbein: On a very high level, but this approach to to give all the young persons, also the possibility to feel how it was and to feel older the purse inside all the persons, this was very fascinating for me and.
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Kurt Langbein: You know something sometimes you simply get a feeling, yes, this will work, the whole project was at the beginning, the whole creative process was before us.
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Kurt Langbein: Maya didn't wake up in the in those days, only some days later, and with her basic idea, but I was full of trust that this will be a marvelous event and that's how it was.
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Annette Insdorf: Okay, and i'm very aware of your entitles where you write these Gentile and Herman line buying alerted authorities in the 1960s that 70 former SS officers were leaving living freely around them, only four faced trial all were acquitted.
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Annette Insdorf: that's a rather sobering conclusion to another wise aesthetically certainly uplifting motion picture, but obviously we have to end with the note of reality, I guess that's how you felt yes correct.
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Kurt Langbein: The German side was a little bit more strict and my father succeeded in in in frankfort Auschwitz process.
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Kurt Langbein: They are there were some sentences, but Australia was in that way, but I think the the stories are told and it's it's terrible enough that they have to be told a.
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Kurt Langbein: More and more, even in the future, but to get really emotional contact you have to tell different stories and that's the way my went and i'm very happy to be part of this team.
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Annette Insdorf: With good reason.
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Annette Insdorf: I want to ask my about your research because, obviously, to be a documentary filmmaker.
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Annette Insdorf: means not only that you have to find the right Cinematic language to tell the story, you also have to take a tremendous amount of historical material and refine it into a dramatic focus, so I gather, you did research in a number of countries, could you talk a little about that process.
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Maya Sarfaty: Yes, and.
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Maya Sarfaty: Well, a the research in a Vienna a was a was made by a brita amber Maya and she did all.
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Maya Sarfaty: The research regarding the trial, and it was wonderful working with her a it helped a lot, because when I tried to do it in English writing the emails I got no answer.
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Maya Sarfaty: And she was wonderful and share, and she worked hard and I think we, we see the the results in the film and the the.
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Maya Sarfaty: The the main a issue for me was and that, as I said, my three protagonists are not alive anymore So the first thing I realized that I have to find other survivors that were there.
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Maya Sarfaty: And can remember and can tell me and an answer my questions so a I spent 2016 and most of 2017 it Yad Vashem archives and joselo.
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Maya Sarfaty: Looking for testimonies of women so women survivors and were among the first transports to Auschwitz all walked into Canada facilities or both.
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Maya Sarfaty: I think I watched dozens dozens of testimonies and it really and it was.
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Maya Sarfaty: It was terrible.
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Maya Sarfaty: Terrible period for me a miserable days and I can tell you I cried more than usual back then and and I, and I watched this test some testimonies hoping that they would remember and mentioned the story of ELENA and France and Rosa.
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Maya Sarfaty: A and.
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Maya Sarfaty: To my surprise, and there were a.
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Maya Sarfaty: We, as I said, it was terrible period and lots of crime and, but they were also moments of light and, at least from a scriptwriter point of view, and because, quite a few of the survivors devoted precious minutes of their personal testimonies person as a life story to this story.
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Maya Sarfaty: And those few minutes were kinds of the window, you know, a three day I could pick into into the past.
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Maya Sarfaty: And the Ward helped me understand what is the real day to day, meaning of the bombastic headline and affair between an SS officer in the Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz, you know they gave it color.
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Maya Sarfaty: And they made me understand what does it look like and sound like and feel like and what they thought and feel felt about it.
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Maya Sarfaty: And I was able to locate seven of the women and interview them myself, and two of them are no longer live by now, and they haven't seen the film The other did and i'm.
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Maya Sarfaty: happy to say they liked it and the rest of the testimonies in the film are the product of the important and very valuable efforts as of yet have a sham and the Foundation by Steve Spielberg.
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Maya Sarfaty: must give the full credit.
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Maya Sarfaty: To this project important projects, and I call this brave and beautiful women in the film the course of the thousand women.
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Maya Sarfaty: And for me, all of them together together are the first fourth protagonist of the film there's Atlanta was a France and the woman's course and.
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Maya Sarfaty: As in the classical Greek tragedy, the core the course accountants companies and unfold, the story and, but there is one big difference here in in our film The course does not speak in one voice.
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Maya Sarfaty: On the country, each and every one of these of these women bring a different voice in a different gays Atlanta, and the whole story.
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Maya Sarfaty: And I love them I love each and every one of these women, they are brave they're honest and nasty they are full of energy they are wonderfully human and fearlessly honest and they look straight into the camera and speak from the bottom of their heart and and I.
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Maya Sarfaty: I truly adore each and every one of them.
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Annette Insdorf: And what is wonderful as well, they have terrific memories they seem to have no sort of mental blocks about the past.
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Kurt Langbein: But the there's another very fascinating aspect in this film, this is remembrance and truth, you know, in the trial say it was always a big problem, that of course our brain doesn't work so that was 30 years after the end event we can remember every detail, but.
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Kurt Langbein: This kairos tells us that our brain is working very differently, even if it is very honest and they are telling the same story even although the stories, they are telling a very different so that's for me a very fascinating aspect to seize the end to end also that's a big.
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Kurt Langbein: success of the film, to be able to to tell this without any condemn condemn nation and without any any trial and any different things so.
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Annette Insdorf: yeah I understand that I have a question and it's also being echoed in some of the questions i'm seeing from the Q amp a box.
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Annette Insdorf: did your feelings about Helena or France change in the making of the film.
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Annette Insdorf: Because, for example, Helen has interviewed decades later she's still so attractive with the red lipstick the dark hair pulled back.
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Annette Insdorf: Her skin taught like from plastic surgery and she's very candid about survival and admitting that when the prisoners knew the barracks were exploding, they would let their friends be where the buildings came down.
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Annette Insdorf: And yet, you could also say I saved many people, thanks to him so just curious first for my island for Kurt did your feelings change.
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Maya Sarfaty: Well, and i'm not choice is my feeling changed.
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Maya Sarfaty: along.
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Maya Sarfaty: The process of making the film, but I can say that the The thing that most fascinated me from the first meet for from the first minute in the story was the ambivalence of the two main figures and SS officer and the Jewish victim, because a you can't really speak about Francis pure evil.
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Maya Sarfaty: He was a sadistic SS officer in Auschwitz, there is no argue about that a bet men and women and harshly.
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Maya Sarfaty: And after all the research about the trial i'm quite sure he took part in the selection one moment sorry.
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Maya Sarfaty: So thank you, so there is no a argue about France being a sadistic SS officer, but at the same time.
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Maya Sarfaty: He also was white romantic and tender men.
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Maya Sarfaty: That is capable of pure love and compassion.
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Maya Sarfaty: And ELENA is done is also know the classic imaginary victim she's a strong woman with a strong survival drive willing to do whatever she needs in order to save herself and to save her sister.
00:30:07.170 --> 00:30:12.810
Maya Sarfaty: So this great zones between evil and pure between good and bad.
00:30:14.280 --> 00:30:26.490
Maya Sarfaty: These are the areas that drives me a storyteller and this this what one of the things that makes this a story so important and so relevance.
00:30:28.050 --> 00:30:51.360
Maya Sarfaty: To our lives today it's not only any historical unbelievable story that happened some day before in there, the ambivalence of the two the two characters the understanding that the good and the bad are a line side by side and that that they are not.
00:30:53.280 --> 00:31:02.040
Maya Sarfaty: And i'm not sure this is the right word in English, but they not a demolishing each other and.
00:31:02.190 --> 00:31:04.230
Annette Insdorf: they're not mutually exclusive.
00:31:04.740 --> 00:31:05.310
Maya Sarfaty: Thank you.
00:31:07.260 --> 00:31:17.340
Maya Sarfaty: Thank you and I, and so and it's it's it's a very important a point in this story for me.
00:31:20.130 --> 00:31:22.140
Annette Insdorf: yeah and Kurt.
00:31:22.650 --> 00:31:36.330
Kurt Langbein: For me it a little bit similar but you know, on the one hand, I learned from my father's work that from him, of course, personally, that the SS men who are the biggest murder were ever.
00:31:37.740 --> 00:31:51.390
Kurt Langbein: Are not beast they are simply persons like we like we are and they have, of course, emotions and all those things, and only because they are they decided to to.
00:31:52.050 --> 00:32:07.920
Kurt Langbein: Work in a system where an order has to be followed and nothing else, made them to do that, of course, right racism plays a big role so that was not very, very surprising, but.
00:32:08.670 --> 00:32:30.480
Kurt Langbein: For me, it was fascinating the openness of Helena after after the war and the openness, how she faced this very ambivalent situation and her role, and this evening i'd like to hear more after after the film than before, I think.
00:32:32.760 --> 00:32:39.720
Kurt Langbein: Another thing is that it's also, I think a little bit incredible, but we have to have it in mind that.
00:32:40.770 --> 00:32:57.720
Kurt Langbein: We, as we found one of the jury members his impressions were so crazy, I think, as as the impressions of France, which at the end of Auschwitz was he mentioned.
00:32:58.500 --> 00:33:21.180
Kurt Langbein: Oh it's such a pity if we want, we will, if we had won the war, it would be much better for our laugh, and they think hey what's going on, he is he said yeah so people are driven by such emotions in a very, very crazy way and but it's good to learn this yeah.
00:33:22.050 --> 00:33:30.390
Annette Insdorf: Right, I think your film raises some important questions look that France foods was acquitted is one story it's factual.
00:33:30.960 --> 00:33:55.140
Annette Insdorf: yeah Daddy these harder, at least for me to judge this Nazi than others, provides the film's complexity, should we rationalize his guilt, because he saved at least Helena Russia or should we critique him because it was romantic love that led to his risk taking activity.
00:33:58.500 --> 00:34:17.310
Annette Insdorf: There are no easy answers, and let me throw in one other thing if I understood correctly, he was 20 years old, at the time Is that correct, and I mean 20 years old and at a garden Auschwitz, do we cut more slack for somebody in that age range than older.
00:34:19.800 --> 00:34:29.160
Maya Sarfaty: might be, but I can, I can say a that transforms never expressed any regret a holy.
00:34:30.570 --> 00:34:42.690
Maya Sarfaty: Life a as as quote mentioned the the the phrasing if we only had won the war and so.
00:34:44.070 --> 00:34:50.130
Maya Sarfaty: More than anything, I think, and also we, we have to remember, he wasn't a.
00:34:50.670 --> 00:35:05.280
Maya Sarfaty: righteous among the nations yeah he saved Helena because he loved her, and he saved her sister he didn't save Jews, because he thought what is what happens around them is terrible and should we stopped.
00:35:05.760 --> 00:35:23.250
Maya Sarfaty: And he loved her, and he was willing to risk his life for her and there's a big difference and he helped people that she asked him to help and over here it's it's a very big difference yeah, as I say.
00:35:23.820 --> 00:35:31.020
Kurt Langbein: He was old enough to kill thousands so every of his colleagues or comrades so.
00:35:32.610 --> 00:35:43.800
Kurt Langbein: We have to face that if people in the world, even eating they they have to to be responsible for what, what they are doing so.
00:35:45.780 --> 00:35:56.580
Annette Insdorf: Okay now i'm i'm going to ask my up about four years ago you won the student academy Award for best foreign documentary.
00:35:57.090 --> 00:36:02.280
Annette Insdorf: For the short version of this story, it was 32 minutes, and it was called the most beautiful woman.
00:36:03.270 --> 00:36:21.300
Annette Insdorf: How did you change or expand 32 minutes into 86 other words I haven't seen your original short how much of what we have in the fiction feature in the documentary feature other comes directly from the short and how much was added later.
00:36:22.500 --> 00:36:26.040
Maya Sarfaty: Nothing it's it's a completely different.
00:36:27.300 --> 00:36:35.430
Maya Sarfaty: Film a truly it's truly is and because the day the short film and.
00:36:36.750 --> 00:36:38.910
Maya Sarfaty: One moment please.
00:36:42.360 --> 00:36:55.410
Maya Sarfaty: The short film the most beautiful woman a is a focus focus focus on the second generation, rather than than the historical story, as his love it was not.
00:36:55.950 --> 00:37:19.260
Maya Sarfaty: And in in the most beautiful woman, I tell the story, a very shortly, and then the main event, the main scene of the film is a meeting between that ma Francis daughter, and the children of the survivors Helena and rose and Rosa I brought that not to Israel, a and.
00:37:20.940 --> 00:37:37.680
Maya Sarfaty: One moment i'm sorry and and a it was a very, very dramatic and intensive meeting meeting an it as much as you imagine then take it five steps further.
00:37:38.130 --> 00:37:57.660
Maya Sarfaty: A there was a big gap a and especially when dogma and between dogma and Mickey a she's roses daughter and and you've seen it seen her in the film because Mickey she she actually lost her to.
00:37:58.650 --> 00:38:22.380
Maya Sarfaty: Her sister and a baby brother and in in Auschwitz, and there was a big gap and between these two women in that mode Mickey and it was very intensive and very emotional and this is the core of the of the short film and.
00:38:24.240 --> 00:38:41.970
Maya Sarfaty: A a you can see everyone in Israel and believe that the children of Rosa this is Paul dogmas a husband, and this is Mickey that law, and this is me here, and this is some pictures from.
00:38:43.980 --> 00:38:53.370
Maya Sarfaty: academy award student academy awards in a ceremony, this is me short and very colorful colorful.
00:38:54.720 --> 00:38:57.450
Maya Sarfaty: Among the black talk people.
00:38:58.620 --> 00:39:00.030
Maya Sarfaty: and
00:39:02.490 --> 00:39:06.750
Maya Sarfaty: One moment I will find how i'm stop sharing, here we are back.
00:39:07.950 --> 00:39:16.740
Annette Insdorf: Anyway, I just had a momentary treats because one of the students winning he was to away from you my former students unique a ruse.
00:39:16.920 --> 00:39:35.580
Annette Insdorf: I want the same year for broke for nocturne in black or for the fiction yeah I thought that was a film that I loved as a short and he also expanded it into a feature called breaking keys, which was the Lebanese entry for the foreign language film Oscar a few months ago, small world.
00:39:36.840 --> 00:39:47.190
Annette Insdorf: Now Dean forward I am jumping to one of the questions in the in the Q amp a because it's related would you consider making a fiction version of this story.
00:39:48.030 --> 00:39:49.260
Maya Sarfaty: classical question.
00:39:51.840 --> 00:39:53.220
00:39:54.570 --> 00:40:10.680
Maya Sarfaty: As I said in a in the start of our conversation I a I tried to to to to tell the story in marriage in many forms and one of them was that I try to write it first.
00:40:12.090 --> 00:40:19.260
Maya Sarfaty: Right, I tried to write it as a fiction and screenplay and I failed.
00:40:20.430 --> 00:40:34.110
Maya Sarfaty: It because the stories so big and so unbelievable that my wards felt so small and not realistic, and it all always felt So what is it.
00:40:35.010 --> 00:40:51.390
Maya Sarfaty: A bad day and the fact that I failed to do it doesn't mean that someone else can make it and I don't know, maybe we'll see and what what may be will be.
00:40:53.460 --> 00:40:54.450
00:40:55.590 --> 00:40:56.160
Maya Sarfaty: Maybe.
00:40:58.320 --> 00:41:07.980
Annette Insdorf: But it would probably have to again be as different from the documentary as the feature documentary was from the short, one has to find another.
00:41:09.090 --> 00:41:14.250
Annette Insdorf: Shall we say fictional entry point in order for it to live as a dramatic Arc sort of film.
00:41:15.900 --> 00:41:34.680
Annette Insdorf: And in terms of the way this was made love it was not for credit, how is the film a Co production of Israel and Austria, I mean apart from your identity as an Austrian and near as our being is really was it a question of the funds or something more.
00:41:36.690 --> 00:41:39.180
Kurt Langbein: I believe it was something more, it was.
00:41:40.350 --> 00:41:42.330
A form of cooperation between.
00:41:43.470 --> 00:41:54.720
Kurt Langbein: persons who are very personally involved in in in the topic and in the questions reason by that and.
00:41:55.830 --> 00:42:23.280
Kurt Langbein: It was not just by chance that we found each other and, for me it was much more and and then I know you know i'm i'm in in the film business for several weeks let's say I never made an experience of sumption open to direct and fair co production, it was really amazing fine for me.
00:42:24.720 --> 00:42:36.690
Annette Insdorf: yeah and I know that you're also a director of documentaries, not just a producer, I took a look at your filmography and the title that struck me was Elvis does mention have been from 2017.
00:42:37.710 --> 00:42:51.750
Annette Insdorf: And I was wondering whether therefore your role as producer included directorial suggestions, for example, did you watch some of the filming process and make suggestions about what my I was doing.
00:42:53.730 --> 00:43:13.470
Kurt Langbein: only to a very small extent extent I think my my experience as a director help me to trust my because I I got the feeling that she's sinking in and and associating in a very, very marble of Spain, so that helps me to crust.
00:43:14.550 --> 00:43:16.470
Kurt Langbein: was not really interference.
00:43:17.580 --> 00:43:32.670
Maya Sarfaty: I see what I can say it was a great experience working with the Court and I felt great confidence, even when I got a bad reactions along the way, and.
00:43:33.180 --> 00:43:57.780
Maya Sarfaty: And we're showing carts and people that didn't get my vision, because it was in in stages, making them at some point, half of the film was blacks till the we are the cat out with a where film and and quote really helped me believe in my vision and and.
00:43:58.830 --> 00:44:02.490
Maya Sarfaty: To believe in myself and to go forward with my vision.
00:44:05.070 --> 00:44:23.100
Annette Insdorf: I have gotten a few questions in the Q amp a box that revolve around one particular issue so i'm going to go carry and Barbara and Melissa are all asking a similar question did Helena and the rose up reconcile after the war, did Russa forgive Helena.
00:44:24.540 --> 00:44:37.140
Maya Sarfaty: Well, I think a the system what she never I we start with the end in the end with the end she never forgave her, she never took the curse off never.
00:44:38.400 --> 00:44:56.220
Maya Sarfaty: Still, they were very, very close close for all their lives and they were a loving and caring sisters and this ambivalence and that I talked about before is also a.
00:44:57.720 --> 00:45:19.260
Maya Sarfaty: relevant to the sisters relationships and they their children were good friends and for older lives and they spent a shabbat the Sabbath and then Fridays evening together and holidays and they were very close at the same time.
00:45:20.400 --> 00:45:22.470
Maya Sarfaty: The wound never yelled.
00:45:26.580 --> 00:45:33.870
Annette Insdorf: we've been asked, is it possible to see the short film the most beautiful woman is that available.
00:45:34.380 --> 00:45:40.890
Maya Sarfaty: Yes, of course I will send out a link a to vimeo and.
00:45:43.470 --> 00:45:45.870
Maya Sarfaty: We talked to him and see how we can.
00:45:47.430 --> 00:45:48.540
Maya Sarfaty: manage that yeah.
00:45:48.870 --> 00:46:03.270
Annette Insdorf: Great um then let's see among the interesting questions which female singer what did we hear singing the body sneak is it possibly the same singer that one hears in Babylon Berlin.
00:46:04.740 --> 00:46:14.190
Maya Sarfaty: And well actually the singer is one of the artists that made the cut out your name is Elliot she's a very, very good friend of mine.
00:46:14.640 --> 00:46:33.480
Maya Sarfaty: And she learned a in Berlin for nine years she learned art in a in Berlin, and while we worked in a while I worked with Sean he is my editor what my wonderful editor and when we worked we needed a guide.
00:46:34.440 --> 00:46:43.140
Maya Sarfaty: to edit so I called her and I asked her, can you please a record yourself on the iPhone for me and she said yes.
00:46:43.590 --> 00:46:57.480
Maya Sarfaty: Of course, just send me the wards and I sent sense Center the YouTube and she recorded when I fun, while our daughter is sleeping in the next one, and we loved it so much and they.
00:46:58.770 --> 00:47:11.580
Maya Sarfaty: forgot Easter a our Austrian a musician loved it as well and I asked, do you think we should record a professional singer and said no, no she's wonderful.
00:47:12.060 --> 00:47:32.460
Maya Sarfaty: And I actually took her to a studio to do as a good record a record on to this song and eventually we worked with this iPhone recording and there was something so emotional and so m honest and then so.
00:47:34.560 --> 00:47:49.230
Maya Sarfaty: exposed emotionally exposed in our voice and something about a hair being alone in our living room, I think a and we use this we just used it yeah.
00:47:49.890 --> 00:48:03.060
Annette Insdorf: Good it works um I think it was not who asked about was Helena too harsh after the war, visa V France not answering his letters.
00:48:05.010 --> 00:48:13.860
Annette Insdorf: He actually quoted the line who saves one person saves the world which is endemic to the Jewish tradition, how do you feel about that.
00:48:16.410 --> 00:48:19.350
Maya Sarfaty: If she was too harsh and.
00:48:20.790 --> 00:48:33.810
Annette Insdorf: In other words, if indeed she owed him her life let's just use that as a point of departure, then her not answering his letters are not looking at him at the trial did you feel that that was justified.
00:48:35.100 --> 00:48:35.970
Maya Sarfaty: What let's look.
00:48:36.990 --> 00:48:49.080
Maya Sarfaty: Look, look at what was it like for her after the war, because the atmosphere is Israeli a straight back then, in the late 40s started the 50s.
00:48:49.620 --> 00:49:03.360
Maya Sarfaty: It was a not so not so sympathetic today survivors, because the gaze on it on them was a bit of suspicious, because how can it be that you survived.
00:49:03.900 --> 00:49:24.360
Maya Sarfaty: What have you done in order to survive, and what have you done is the women as a woman to survive and now imagine yourself in debt in this situation, when you truly did have a relationship with an SS officer officer back there, so a.
00:49:25.620 --> 00:49:36.000
Maya Sarfaty: Not only Atlanta, but none, most of the survivors haven't spoke about what happened there a four years it was silence.
00:49:37.170 --> 00:49:45.480
Maya Sarfaty: silence and only in the 60s in the eye on trial that was the big change in a.
00:49:47.040 --> 00:50:11.010
Maya Sarfaty: survival started talking about what happened there the day a family myth is that Helena set with the radio listening today, I went trial and at some point she collapsed and cried and lost her voice, and from that moment, she never send again.
00:50:13.230 --> 00:50:20.490
Maya Sarfaty: But she never send but she started talking and she started telling her story only in the 60s.
00:50:21.540 --> 00:50:36.210
Maya Sarfaty: And, and I can say that I watched and listened to several testimonies of Atlanta and along the years and the first testimonies from and the early 80s from yet for shame and.
00:50:37.560 --> 00:50:52.080
Maya Sarfaty: guilt on graph is a professional get on graph is doing the interview and she's telling your story and at some point, get on is asking you about why this this SS officer saved your sister.
00:50:53.820 --> 00:50:56.370
Maya Sarfaty: And she stops the interview.
00:50:57.480 --> 00:51:04.290
Maya Sarfaty: And she she can't answer him and when when he asked he can barely say the name finance won't.
00:51:05.340 --> 00:51:24.510
Maya Sarfaty: In the Spielberg and archives testimony she already tells the whole story fluently and in a even a later, a into interview she can say I I had feelings for him.
00:51:26.100 --> 00:51:37.590
Maya Sarfaty: And so I think that the process along the years of the environment around her, and also a for her personally and.
00:51:39.360 --> 00:51:54.960
Maya Sarfaty: evolved and changed along the years and and no I don't think she was harsh and each I think she did whatever she needed to do in order to survive in the war and after the war.
00:51:56.340 --> 00:52:10.110
Annette Insdorf: Thank you that's a very comprehensive answer to overlapping questions least Harris was asking did you do you think that they had a physical relationship and Ken was asking detail in a really.
00:52:10.560 --> 00:52:19.500
Annette Insdorf: Love France or was this nearly so that she could survive that she you know engaged in this relationship.
00:52:20.850 --> 00:52:27.360
Maya Sarfaty: Regarding the physical relationship, I can only say that both of them Atlanta influence a.
00:52:29.490 --> 00:52:38.490
Maya Sarfaty: say a in their testimony that they weren't there wasn't any physical contact and I never a.
00:52:39.570 --> 00:52:57.270
Maya Sarfaty: A I didn't dealt with this question in the film because I felt I don't have the means I don't have them to sit and to ask them and the full answer so it will be only am yellowish gossip and kind of.
00:52:58.830 --> 00:53:12.600
Maya Sarfaty: So I haven't dealt with the with this issue at all, and I just side a whether she loved him ha.
00:53:13.830 --> 00:53:29.790
Maya Sarfaty: i'm not sure you can even speak in terms in love a love when you are talking about an SS officer in a Jewish girl in Auschwitz, can you speak about free will and free choice and.
00:53:31.080 --> 00:53:34.020
Maya Sarfaty: I, I can only say that.
00:53:35.430 --> 00:53:42.840
Maya Sarfaty: What she said that at some point she had feelings for him and I have no doubt that she was grateful.
00:53:44.280 --> 00:53:48.540
Maya Sarfaty: And thankful and but love.
00:53:50.190 --> 00:53:50.970
Annette Insdorf: It was not.
00:53:51.990 --> 00:54:03.510
Maya Sarfaty: It was not, I can say I can a tell a very interesting a perspective to give us a very interesting perspective.
00:54:04.530 --> 00:54:25.170
Maya Sarfaty: As an answer and Helena you say love it was not Helena says that the songs the songs she sang at the other first meeting was live Alice me it was never loved, this is the director a translation she translated as love it was not and i'm going with her dress translation.
00:54:26.370 --> 00:54:44.130
Maya Sarfaty: France watching his diaries and tells that the the song she sang a I don't know the words in a German i'm sorry quote forgive me a on a only Nevada translation and the translation is my heart is homesick for your love.
00:54:46.080 --> 00:54:58.110
Maya Sarfaty: So Atlanta love it was not in France, my heart is homesick for your love, if you ask me, neither of the song songs was the simplest really.
00:54:58.800 --> 00:55:13.170
Maya Sarfaty: And she really staying there, but I think that what each of us each of them a choose to tell or choose to remember tells everything about their personal position regarding the story.
00:55:14.340 --> 00:55:22.500
Annette Insdorf: And also, since one of the questions raised this i'm going back to the fact that, when she was 20 and I guess Helena was what about 17.
00:55:23.010 --> 00:55:23.760
Annette Insdorf: So.
00:55:24.030 --> 00:55:26.040
Annette Insdorf: we're not talking about say i'm sorry.
00:55:26.580 --> 00:55:39.060
Annette Insdorf: 19 she was 1990 so again they are still comparatively young with unformed you know senses of self or romance in an exceedingly limited situation.
00:55:39.450 --> 00:55:53.010
Annette Insdorf: it's it's hard and I think you do not let us judge it's very hard to say oh here's what I would have done or whatever, in fact, one of the questions was was there any discussion of Stockholm syndrome.
00:55:53.250 --> 00:55:55.860
Annette Insdorf: In the relationship between Helena and France.
00:55:57.900 --> 00:56:28.020
Maya Sarfaty: And, yes and yes it's something that I thought about with none of the women survivors a talked about and I, as I, so I my place my m my role was only to be the stage upon the the survivors and the protagonist can tell the story their story in their own words and so.
00:56:29.190 --> 00:56:34.200
Maya Sarfaty: I I went with with with what they thought and not what I thought.
00:56:35.310 --> 00:56:35.550
00:56:36.780 --> 00:56:48.990
Annette Insdorf: I realized that we are coming close to the end of our time and I see that there is in the Q amp a box a rather significant contribution that i'd like everyone to know about this comes from Louise Roth.
00:56:49.380 --> 00:56:59.070
Annette Insdorf: who writes, not a question, but I would like to introduce myself into, thank you for bringing this amazing film to the US, I am an American cousin of Helena citron.
00:56:59.700 --> 00:57:05.880
Annette Insdorf: My great grandmother safaris will citron was a brother of Helena his father Michael sutra and.
00:57:06.660 --> 00:57:23.820
Annette Insdorf: I met shoshana and support ELENA in Israel in the 1970s, when I did my gap year in Israel, my Israeli cousins have been raving about the film for the past year and I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to see it, unquote.
00:57:26.130 --> 00:57:30.600
Maya Sarfaty: Great well, thank you, thank you for sharing, thank you for writing us.
00:57:31.470 --> 00:57:41.040
Annette Insdorf: yeah I mean one of the reasons that it is fantastic to do public programs of this nature is not only to celebrate a film and help its release into the wider audience.
00:57:41.310 --> 00:57:55.140
Annette Insdorf: But to give the opportunity for individuals who have private connections to actually enter into the discussion and I really was curious about one thing Maya did you have any Holocaust background in your own family.
00:57:56.790 --> 00:57:57.240
00:57:58.800 --> 00:58:16.260
Maya Sarfaty: No from my father side I may 9 generation in Israel, a and my mother, she is from Lisa Lisa tanya and her family, a am ready runaway before the war.
00:58:17.190 --> 00:58:42.000
Maya Sarfaty: And I a must say that, as a child, I you know it's it's a bit absurd or ironic and to save it as a child, I was angry at the other children that had this brave and grandfather and fathers and grandmothers with this wonderful stories about the way they survived and in.
00:58:43.050 --> 00:58:58.770
Maya Sarfaty: My family had no wonderful story just you know they were a actually made a short film about that, and about the gail without a.
00:58:59.910 --> 00:59:12.120
Maya Sarfaty: Holocaust past in her family and it's another short I did and but now I have now in part of the citizens, family and many ways.
00:59:14.670 --> 00:59:26.040
Annette Insdorf: yeah wonderful well I realized that we've come to the moment that I have been told, is the cut off, so I just want to express my own personal gratitude.
00:59:26.820 --> 00:59:38.280
Annette Insdorf: To Kurt and my first of all for making this remarkable film and second for spending this hour with us to illuminate us about the background and the meaning, thank you, thank you.
00:59:39.240 --> 00:59:48.090
Maya Sarfaty: Thank you very much a it was a wonderful to talk to you and that Thank you quote for joining us thank you IRA for a.
00:59:48.690 --> 01:00:06.540
Maya Sarfaty: This wonderful event and the Bernie and Michelle and Danielle Thank you everybody and also did a our that works with us in in America, and thank you, it was great being here, thank you for the audience for watching and listening.
01:00:07.590 --> 01:00:08.010
01:00:09.570 --> 01:00:21.090
Ari Goldstein: on behalf of the Museum of Jewish heritage, the Austrian Cultural Forum and the office of cultural affairs at the consulate general Israel in New York, I just ECHO and that's thanks to both of you my incurred for producing this.
01:00:21.450 --> 01:00:26.430
Ari Goldstein: directing this amazing film and thank you and net for helping all of us to understand it.
01:00:26.880 --> 01:00:33.300
Ari Goldstein: But the making of the film and its significance, I think this is left us all with a lot to think about as we go into our lives.
01:00:33.840 --> 01:00:43.470
Ari Goldstein: And to those of you watching the film will remain available for another 24 hours, so if you have not seen it or you'd like to revisit parts of the film, you can do so at the link in the zoom chat.
01:00:44.040 --> 01:00:55.140
Ari Goldstein: We will send out an email tomorrow with a recording of today's discussion between a net Maya and Kurt and will include some other links and resources in there as including.
01:00:56.070 --> 01:01:05.610
Ari Goldstein: maya's short film most beautiful woman Thank you absolutely so we wish everyone safe and good afternoon, and thank you for joining us take care.