Hot Docs 2018: THE ACCOUNTANT OF AUSCHWITZ (Canada 2017) ****

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The Accountant of Auschwitz Poster
Oskar Gröning, known as the “Accountant of Auschwitz,” was charged with the murder of 300,000 Jews. When he took the stand in 2015, at the age of 94, his trial made headlines worldwide.

Director:

Matthew Shoychet

Writer:

Ricki Gurwitz

This eye-opening doc, despite its well worn subject of Jews slaughtered in Nazi concentration camps is based on the 2015 trial of 94-year-old Oskar Groning, the Accountant of Auschwitz.  He went on trial in his home town in Luneburg, Germany for the murder of 300,000 people, way back in 1944.

The case made headlines around the world, as a frail old man took the stand to finally face justice for crimes committed long ago.  Director Shoychet shows two sides of the argument, that a precedent must be set for the murders of the past.  On the other hand, it could be argued that Groning, like many other Germans that followed served no purpose.  The photo of Groning as a young man in uniform makes the guilty man look so innocent, and his current photo at the age of 94, which bears no resemblance at all to the old photo stresses the relevance of prosecuting the man.  

The doc is quite different here, as many Germans are interviewed and have their say on camera.  The Germans get to debate both sides.  Survivors and Nazi hunters alike are therefore torn over whether he should be prosecuted at all.  The film also contains archive footage with relevant commentary on the Nuremberg Trials. 

 But the highlight of the film are the testimonies of the survivors, prosecutors and other interviewees whose words bring shivers regarding what have transited in the past.  Oskar Groning just passed away March of this year.

 

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HOT DOCS 2018: ANOTE’S ARK (Canada 2018)

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Anote's Ark Poster
A look at the devastating effects that climate change has on the people living on Kiribati, a low-lying atoll in the Pacific.

Director:

Matthieu Rytz

Writer:

Matthieu Rytz

 

A clever title for a documentary on the Pacific island of Kikibati.  The nation of Kiribati (population: 100,000) is one of the most remote places on the planet, seemingly far-removed from the pressures of modern life.  Yet it is one of the first countries that must confront the main existential dilemma of our time: imminent annihilation from sea-level rise due to global warming from climate change.   

The film opens with a shot of the island surrounded by crystal clear blue waters.  The island is described as the corners of the earth as it streets north and south and east and west of the international date line.  The fishing scene also shows how rich the waters are. 

Anote is the then President who needs to build an ark for the nation to survive the flooding, similar to Noah building an ark to save the animals from the world flood.  The film documents the desperation of the people as the tides rise and flooding occurs.  Lots of footage here including scenes of devastation resulting from the floods.  While Kiribati’s President Anote Tong races to find a way to protect his nation’s people (he attends the Paris Climate change Conference with other world leaders including ex-U.S. President Obama) and maintain their dignity, many Kiribati are already seeking safe harbour overseas.  The film follows one such couple who sees New Zealand as their new home.  

Both director Matthieu Rytz, and subject President Anote Tong will be present during the Hot Docs screening.
Trailer: https://vimeo.com/244728466

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