• Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Midfest film ‘The Commandant’s Shadow’ showcases a new perspective on the Holocaust

There is a great potential in India for international co-productions, says Daniela Volker, Director of the Film ‘The Commandant’s Shadow’. She was speaking at a Press Conference at the 18th Mumbai International Film Festival. “Being a vast country, there is so much content in India. India is bursting with fascinating tales and I would love to see Indian stories becoming global and reach wider audiences”, she said.

‘The Commandant’s Shadow’, was screened today at MIFF as the official Mid -Fest Film. Völker’s timely and poignant documentary follows Hans Jürgen Höss, the 87-year-old son of Rudolf Höss, as he faces his father’s terrible legacy for the first time. His father was the Camp Commandant of Auschwitz and masterminded the murder of over a million Jews. While Hans Jurgen Höss enjoyed a happy childhood in the family villa at Auschwitz, Jewish prisoner Anita Lasker-Wallfisch was trying to survive the notorious concentration camp. Together with their children, Kai Höss and Maya Lasker-Wallfisch, the four protagonists explore their very different hereditary burdens. Also present for the Press Conference were Executive Producer of the film Sajan Raj Kurup and Co Executive Producer Wendy Robbins.

Elaborating on the content she gathered for the film, Director, Daniela Volker said that the base for the film was the manuscript written by Rudolf Hoss just seven or eight weeks before being sent to death. “This manuscript has never before been seen or filmed. The film tells you exactly what happened she says, in Hoss’s own words. The films sets this narrative, of how Auschwitz was imagined and built with gas chambers and everything against the constant dichotomy of Rudolf Hoss’s letter to his nine year old son where we see glimpses of him as a good and loving father,” she explained.

Speaking on the topic of gathering funds to produce films, Sajan Raj Kurup, said “There is no substitute for conviction. Cinema is a business. Every piece of content is a business. Pitch is as important as story.  Film making should have purpose and not ego. There is a very thin line between the two. Film making cannot change the world. You will have to be politician to do that.  But what you can do is tell stories honestly. Ego should not become agenda. The primary responsibility of a film maker is of quality storytelling.”

Hinting on the changing outlook in India towards documentary movies, Sajan Raj Kurup said that honours like Oscars have start coming in and lot of entertaining content is being created as against the preconceived notions of what documentaries used to be. “ There is a new business model around which how documentaries are built nowadays. The format is more accepted now. Documentaries are becoming a part of the streaming universe also,” he added. He also announced that a lot more projects are in the pipeline for international collaborations.

Wendy Robbins, also highlighted the importance of timing in getting funding for the films. “Initially we were spending money on Daniella’s credit card and shooting sequences using black out sheets in Daneilla’s house. However, the Oscar winning film ‘Zone of Interest’ which is the fictional story of the same family put a spotlight on our film. Ongoing world events also made this film more relevant and that’s how Warner Brothers finally ended up buying it.” Wendy also seconded Sajan and reiterated that integrity of the story and packaging makes or breaks a film.

Referring to Doc Bazaar started as a part of MIFF, Daniela Volker said that having such arenas for creators and producers to meet and collaborate is a great thing.

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