The Rape of Europa

Oscar's Documentary Shortlist

COUNTRY: U.S.

DIRECTORS: Richard Berge, Nicole Newnham, Bonni Cohen

ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS: San Francisco-based Berge has produced docs for PBS, Showtime, A&E Biography and Omnimedia, and he produced “Yesterday’s Tomorrow With Barry Levinson”; Cohen founded Actual Films (an independent documentary film company) and has directed the PBS series “The New Heroes”; Newnham has worked for PBS, National Geographic, Discovery and the BBC. 

FINANCING: Pic was made for $1.3 million, with half the financing coming from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the remainder from various foundations and a private investor.

THEME: Based on Lynn Nicholas’ book of the same name, the film lays out the theft and destruction — and hard-won survival — of some of Europe’s art treasures during the Third Reich and World War II, during which Hitler ravaged a fifth of the continent’s artistic heritage.

VARIETY REVIEW SAYS: “Extraordinary footage details the evacuation of the Louvre (a crated Winged Victory descending the great staircase miraculously unharmed), the artwork spirited away in carts just ahead of exploding bombs.”

DISTRIBUTION STATUS: Distributed theatrically by Menemsha Films. Pic has earned more than $425,000 to date.

ON THE MAKING OF THE FILM: “We worked with archive researchers in the countries where some of the footage came from: Russia, Germany, France and, of course, the United States,” Cohen says. “The National Archives is a treasure trove. … The largest challenge was amassing the archive material and weeding through it all to find the little gems that were particular to this story.”

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