A rare interview between Gita and Kurt Waldheim, who did not usually allow Americans to interview him, as seen in SHADOWS FROM MY PAST, a film by Curt Kaufman and Gita Weinrauch Kaufman. Image courtesy Fippy & Thump Productions and epo-film, Vienna. All rights reserved.
- Fippy & Thump Productions
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Shadows from My Past (2013/2014)
Opened: 08/29/2014 Limited
|Quad Cinema||08/29/2014 - 09/04/2014||7 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Genre: Documentary (English and German)
Based on "Letters from Vienna 1939-1941" which received The Bruno Kreisky Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Human Rights"
With anti-Semitism rising across the globe, SHADOWS FROM MY PAST is a chilling personal account--and dire warning. In 1940, Gita Weinrauch Kaufman escaped from Austria with her immediate family the day they were to be deported to Dachau Concentration Camp. More than 50 years later, she returned to Vienna with her husband and co-director, Curt Kaufman, to ask the question: Is present-day Austria truly different from the country from which she fled? The filmmakers had remarkable access: survivor Simon Wiesenthal; infamous former UN Secretary General, Kurt Waldheim; former US Ambassador to Austria, Ronald Lauder; Austrian President Heinz Fischer; chancellors; distinguished academics; contemporary Austrians; Oscar-winning film producer Eric Pleskow; actor, singer Theodore Bikel and many others. However revealing these interviews are, the letters Kaufman cites, written by her family from 1939 -- 1941, desperately asking for help trying to obtain visas, truly animate the shadows. For years, Austria claimed to be "the first victim" of the Germans, despite the number of Austrians among top Nazi leadership, including Hitler and Eichmann. On this, the 76th Anniversary of the Anschluss, SHADOWS FROM MY PAST creates a collage of evidence that Austria is coming to terms with its own dark past. As former Chancellor Franz Vranitzky states in his apology to Israel, "We must tell the truth to our children and the world...We do not want to disguise that any longer."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Anne Borin PR
Filmed in Austria, Germany, France and the United States SHADOWS FROM MY PAST deals with the mixed emotions of Gita Kaufman, an American Jewish woman upon her return to Vienna, Austria, the city she was forced to flee as a child in February of 1940. Kaufman escaped the onset of the Holocaust with her mother, father and two brothers on the very day that they were to be deported to Dachau. Many others in her family were not so fortunate, and were murdered in the Shoah.
The film opens with Gita Kaufman receiving a grant from the Bruno Kreisky Foundation for Outstanding Achievement in the Area of Human Rights for an audio-visual presentation that she and her husband Curt Kaufman produced based on family letters that members of her extended family--aunts and uncles--wrote to her parents who found safe haven in America.
Gita is invited to speak and present the letters at the University of Vienna. Reluctant at first to return to the place of so much tragedy for her family, with the moral support of Dr. Michael Berenbaum, director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC she finally decides to accept the invitation. While in Vienna Gita looks for her past and for the face of contemporary Austria. Asking questions of herself and of the people she meets, she tries to determine if the new Austria is truly different from the old -- has it come to terms with its past -- or is it just a new mask on an old face?
Austria is at the European crossroads between East and West and is an important cultural center. As such, it is, and was, a microcosm of the whole of Europe. It was also a willing participant in the Holocaust. Austria's recent history is part of Gita's history.
As she searches for the missing parts to her own past therefore, she also seeks answers to questions of moral ambiguity, individual as opposed to collective guilt and to what degree today's generation is responsible for the sins of their fathers and grandfathers.
Using digital cameras and technology, Curt and Gita Kaufman produced and shot SHADOWS FROM MY PAST on location in Austria, Germany, New Jersey, Connecticut, Paris, Poland and New York.
SHADOWS was originally based on excerpts of archival letters, documents and photographs dating to the period of 1939-1941 that were collected from Gita Kaufman's family, many of whom were murdered. These documents are from witnesses of the Holocaust, and are excerpted in the documentary. The film was presented by the Kaufmans in the ZIIS-Seminarraum, of the Center for International and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Vienna.
SHADOWS OF MY PAST underlines the need for preservation of the memory of the Holocaust and the importance of tolerance education. SHADOWS FROM MY PAST is a warning to the people of today.
"...a deeply personal story... it explores the nature of anti-Semitism within Austria past and present...the audience will be grateful for the light that has been shed, but also for the shadows that endure."
Michael Berenbaum, Former Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
"...goes a long way to make us reflect on the past...and to guard against anti-Semitism and genocide in the future."
Edith Kurzweil, Editor, Partisan Review
"Your film is already a great success. You've brought the truth of what happened in Austria into world consciousness."
Jerome Coopersmith, Fmr. Prof. Film Writing, CUNY
"... Superb film... They were indeed not at all victims. They were the first perpetrators. Bravo!"
Erik R. Kandel, M.D., Neuroscientist, Nobel Prizewinner