The rescued and restored version of the 1945 documentary about World War II concentration camps co-directed by Alfred Hitchcock premiered at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival. The 88-minute film is set for its sold out New York debut tonight at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
The American premiere was earlier this year at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. New York Deadline executive editor Jeremy Gerrard was in attendance that night and witnessed the kind of audience reaction that often comes with this territory:
Not long after the film began, I heard weeping from the couple sitting in front of me, both of them survivors there by invitation. The husband, sobbing, kept telling his wife not to look, shielding her eyes lovingly. Yet he was the one who finally whispered, “I wasn’t prepared for this” as he reached for his walker and quietly left the auditorium. A few minutes later, his wife followed. I would say I know how they felt, but of course I have no idea. I do know how I felt, which was taken to the edge of a bottomless chasm. It was almost impossible to walk out into the night.
Hitchcock was recruited to the project by producer and eventual co-director Sidney Bernstein. Bernstein’s daughter Jane Wells will there tonight to participate in the post-screening discussion, along with New York Times columnist Roger Cohen and moderator Dr. Stuart Liebman, a Professor Emeritus at CUNY Graduate Center.