In this season of World War II anniversaries, director Robert Weide is highlighting one with a literary twist involving author Kurt Vonnegut.
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Allied firebombing of Dresden, a massive attack in the final months of the war that leveled the German city and produced tens of thousands of casualties. Vonnegut endured the Dresden bombing while being held by the Germans as a prisoner of war, having been captured after fighting in the Battle of the Bulge as an Army private. The experience of being held prisoner in an underground meat locker inspired Vonnegut’s landmark 1969 novel “Slaughterhouse-Five.”
Earlier this week Weide launched a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to finally finish the documentary “Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time,” on which he’s been working for nearly 30 years.
Weide, who is known for his work on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and for the Oscar-nommed 1998 doc “Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth,” befriended Vonnegut in the 1980s. The director spent many hours filming the author between 1988 and his death in 2007. Vonnegut’s family has also been supportive of the project, which has been self-funded by Weide to date.
Weide teamed with fellow helmer Don Argott a few years ago in a last push to get the film finished. The goal is to raise $250,000 via Kickstarter in order to pull together a rough cut to shop to distributors. Weide took a similar route with his Bruce docu, which wound up selling to HBO.
For Vonnegut devotees, Weide promises the material he’s got in the can from his first-hand interviews with the author are unlike anything previously seen.
“We have a great scene of Kurt recounting how he first came up with the idea of planet Tralfamadore (featured in ‘Slaughterhouse’) when he was 10 years old. He tells the story on the very spot where it happened,” Weide said. “It sends shivers down the spine of Vonnegut fans who’ve seen it.”
(Pictured: an image of Kurt Vonnegut from an art installation in Dresden marking the anniversary of the bombing)