×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Camerimage: An Artist Preserves Memories of the Holocaust in ‘Drawing Against Oblivion’

BYDGOSZCZ, Poland — As the Holocaust slowly recedes from memory, so too have the films about it shifted their focus.

This year, Laszlo Nemes’ Cannes Grand Prix winner “Son of Saul” follows a concentration camp trustie who seeks a rabbi to give his son a proper burial in secret. And the documentary “Drawing Against Oblivion,” which screened here at Camerimage, also puts children at its center, tracing the career of Austrian artist Manfred Bockelmann as he tries to capture, in charcoal drawings, the faces of children who perished in the death camps.

Bockelmann was born in 1943 at the height of the Hitler’s roundup of the Jews. The son of privileged parents who, to their subsequent regret, ended up joining the Nazi party, he travels to Auschwitz in his late career, and to Stockton University in New Jersey, which contains an archive of faded photos of Jewish kids who were killed in the camps.

Using his unique methods, Bockelmann transforms these small pictures into large black-and-white images that seize the essence of each murdered child. In some cases, elderly surviving relatives of those children are shown the photos, which poignantly transport them to a painful past.

Popular on Variety

In making the doc, producer David Kunac and director Barbel Jacks faced the challenge of persuading those Holocaust survivors to recall their experiences. “I told them if these stories don’t get told, they will be forgotten,” said Kunac.

“We did the film for a younger generation,” said Jacks. “Older people know about (the Holocaust).”

Cinematographer Tobias Corts shot the film mostly with the Canon C300, and some scenes using the Canon EOS 5D.

“Drawing Against Oblivion” will have its U.S. premiere at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival in February, 2016.

Pictured above: Holocaust survivor Murray Kohn, left, with the artist Manfred Bockelmann

More Artisans

  • chadwick boseman 21 Bridges

    '21 Bridges' DP Seeks New York-Style 'Street' Cred in Philadelphia

    In director Brian Kirk’s “21 Bridges,” Chadwick Boseman plays a very different kind of hero than T’Challa in “Black Panther”: He’s an intense New York cop tracking a pair of killers throughout the city one fateful night, trying to box them in by closing the titular connections between Manhattan and the mainland. Along with Kirk, [...]

  • Two Popes Production

    How 'Two Popes' Production Team Re-Created the Sistine Chapel, Frescoes and All

    When Mark Tildesley read Anthony McCarten’s script for “The Two Popes,” he saw how integral the Sistine Chapel was to the narrative. As the film’s production designer, he knew he couldn’t film inside the Vatican, which meant he’d have to reproduce the location. “We did visit it with a leading expert — [producer] Enzo Sisti. His [...]

  • The Aeronauts Movie

    'The Aeronauts' Production Team Helps Hot-Air Balloon Saga Soar

    For cinematographer George Steel, the key to “The Aeronauts,” director Tom Harper’s $80 million film starring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne as balloonist-scientists who soar to 35,000 feet to break records in 1862, was to take the viewer along for the ride. When Variety visited the cast and crew on set in London, Steel was crouched [...]

  • Al Ghouta, Syria - Dr Amani

    Capturing the Sounds of War in National Geographic's 'The Cave'

    When director Feras Fayyad and sound designer Peter Albrechtsen spoke about “The Cave,” Fayyad knew sound was going to be an important element in the documentary. “The Cave” depicts the harrowing and true story of the Syrian War. As bombs rattle the walls of a Syrian hospital and planes fly overhead, Dr. Amani Ballour and [...]

  • De-aging Robert De Niro For Scorsese's

    'The Irishman': A Closer Look at the De-Aging of De Niro in Scorsese's Mob Epic

    Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” hits Netflix today and it stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. De Niro plays Frank Sheeran, a truck driver who meets Russell Bufalino (Pesci). Spanning several decades, the film follows Sheeran as he gets involved in the greatest unsolved mob mystery – the disappearance of union boss Jimmy [...]

  • IRM_DAY032_110117_0719538.raf

    Thelma Schoonmaker on Editing 'The Irishman' With Martin Scorsese (Exclusive Short)

    If anyone knows Martin Scorsese, it’s Thelma Schoonmaker. Schoonmaker has worked with the director since 1980’s “Raging Bull,” which won her the first of three Academy Awards, along with six additional nominations. Most recently, she won in 2007 for “The Departed.” In this exclusive clip, Schoonmaker talks about the ideas for editing her most recent [...]

  • Bong Joon Ho Parasite BTS

    'Parasite' Director Bong Joon Ho on His Core Crew and Their 'Risky Choices'

    In Neon’s “Parasite,” writer-director Bong Joon Ho creates a rare film in which the audience has no idea where the plot is headed. Bong, who won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and rave reviews for the film, talks about the contributions of his colleagues — without spoiling the plot. Cinematography, Hong Kyung pyo On the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content