Destination Unknown

An elderly man plays with the remains of a fence, then walks across a scrubby heath.

“There were no trees here,” he says, looking at a path weaving through the bushes. “Nothing.” He regards the nothing for a moment, then tells of the last time he saw his family at the Kraków-Plaszów forced labour camp, in 1942.  The camp featured in Schindler’s List

Ed Mosberg, a trim, lively 92-year-old, regularly dons his camp uniform and travels to the sites of former camps to tell his story. His wife refuses to tell her story: “I have to pull the words out of her mouth…” he says. She remembers her sister’s fate after much patient prompting by her husband, and it’s heart-breaking to watch. 

Helena Sternlicht, chosen by Amon Goeth from a line-up and sent to work in his house. She remembers Oskar Schindler attending Goeth’s notorious wild parties; he would give her a hug and tell her that everything would be fine.

roman ferber
Roman Ferber

Roman Ferber, liberated from Auschwitz by the Soviet army in 1944. He points to his younger self in a photograph; a skinny, apprehensive kid pressed against a barbed wire fence.

Eli Zborowski, hidden by neighbours in a specially built secret room. He joined the Polish army and saved a German soldier’s life.

Victor Lewis, who climbed out of the train to Auschwitz, leaving his parents and sister behind.

mietek pemper
Mietek Pemper

Mietek Pemper, who compiled the lists of Jewish workers for Schindler’s factory. His meticulous record keeping was key in ensuring Goeth’s conviction after the war.

What marks Destination Unknown apart from other Holocaust films is the space it allows for the 12 survivors to tell their own stories, unmediated by a narrator. Sometimes we are aware of the basic facts – like the purging of the ghettos, the trains, Schindler’s factory… but for many of the interviewees, this is the first time they have talked publicly about their experiences. There are stories of immense bravery, horrific torture and a bloody-minded refusal to be extinguished. The film follows them after liberation when they tell how they travelled across Europe in search of loved ones, and how they created a new, ‘normal’ life after years of chaos and death.

As one participant says, “My grandchildren are my answer to Hitler’s Final Solution.”

Destination Unknown is playing at selected cinemas around the country from 15 June 2017. See the website for details of screenings.  

It Is Happening Again

Twin Peaks has returned, but does it meet expectations? theTramp investigates

When Twin Peaks first aired, back in 1990, its impact was monumental. I’m not talking about the impact that it had on television; the realisation that narrative structures could move about a bit, that magic realism could step off the page, that strong characters could lend themselves to unpredictable narrative formats and still be watchable. No I am talking about the impact that it had on me personally.

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Cannes Report

Ron Swanson watched a lot of films at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Here’s what he thought.
I’ve been coming to the Cannes Film Festival for nearly 10 years, and it would be fair to say that the 2017 vintage will probably not go down as a great year. That being the case, there were still a number of outstanding films on display. Here are 13 of the best.

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Monoglot Movie Club: Tales Of Asian Vengeance

Part of an occasional series in which Spank The Monkey travels to foreign countries, watches films in unfamiliar languages, and then complains about not understanding them. This episode: Hong Kong and Japan, May 2017. Additional photography by The Belated Birthday Girl.

Continue reading Monoglot Movie Club: Tales Of Asian Vengeance