The Hong Kong Holocaust & Tolerance Centre was pleased to support a number of Holocaust-themed films as part of the 24th Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival taking place 11-19 November 2023.
These public screenings took place in person at the Golden Scene Cinema at 2 Catchick St, Kennedy Town. Please see the list below for film descriptions.
Supported Films 2023
The Return of the Violin (Sunday, 12 November, 12:00pm)
A young Jewish boy [Bronislaw Huberman] from Czestochowa, Poland, plays the violin with such virtuosity that a nobleman gifts him a 1731 Stradivarius, which he later plays in front of composer Johannes Brahms. While playing at Carnegie Hall in 1936 Huberman’s violin is stolen. Forced to flee Europe at the onset of World War II, he emigrates to Israel where he establishes the Israeli National Orchestra (the present day Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra) and rescues hundreds of Jewish musicians from Nazi Europe. In this documentary, American violinist Joshua Bell reveals the compelling story of the violin, which was only recovered in 1985.
The Conspiracy (Sunday, 12 November, 1:50pm)
This startling animated documentary addresses an insidious, centuries-old conspiracy theory that continues to rear its ugly head today: the idea that Jews have a secret international plot to control the world. Filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin and a host of talented voice actors including Mayim Bialik, Liev Schreiber, Jason Alexander, and Ben Shenkman connect the dots of hate and fear, walking us through almost 250 years of antisemitic ideology, and focusing on how times of uncertainty give rise to hatred and increase anxieties in marginalized populations.
The Man in the Basement (Sunday, 12 November, 5:20pm)
After a Jewish couple in Paris sells their basement storage unit to a former history teacher (“The Intouchables’” François Cluzet), they discover his secret life as an antisemitic conspiracy theorist. As the couple struggles to rescind the sale, the buyer befriends their naive teenage daughter.
In 1938 Italy, after the promulgation of the racial laws, fascist-abiding restaurateur Luciano believes he can still live by his own rules inside his business. Everything changes when he hires Anna, a girl with a dangerous secret. A resonance with Europe’s flirtation with modern-day facism can be felt in every scene in this mesmerizing period thriller.
This empathetic and humanistic film looks at the infamous trial of Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the mass extermination of Jews during the Second World War. Depicting the events preceding Eichmann’s 1962 execution, Director Jake Paltrow has a unique take on the impact of the event on the Israeli society of the time. Following the perspective of the three main characters, a 13-year-old child, Eichmann’s prison guard and an investigator for the prosecution, we see a light, but gripping, way to delineate the story of this national defining event.
Tel Aviv, 1998, summer vacation. Reut finds and reads her grandmother’s secret diary from the Holocaust. Grandma’s story resonates in Reut’s well-developed imagination, and the fun week in Tel Aviv with Grandpa and Grandma turns into something else entirely. This mixed-genre, live action/animation film is based on the childhood memories of the director, who discovered her grandmother’s Holocaust diary when she was thirteen.
Music Under the Swastika (Sunday, 19 November, 1:00pm)
Why was classical music so important to Hitler and Goebbels? The stories of Jewish cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, member of the infamous Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, and of star conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, who worked with the Nazis, provide insight. Both shared a love for classical German music. Why did gifted artists like Furtwängler make a pact with evil? Why was classical music played in extermination camps? And how did this change the way victims saw music?
Photographer Roman Vishniac is best known for traversing Eastern Europe from 1935 through 1938, on assignment for the American Joint Distribution Committee, documenting Jewish life in Eastern Europe. While the purpose of the photographs was to raise funds for impoverished Jewish communities, few could have predicted that less than a decade later these communities would be wiped out. Vishniac’s photographs provide the last visual records of an entire world. After the war he continued to add to the historical record with photographs of Berlin in ruins and children in displaced persons camps before shifting his focus to groundbreaking scientific work. The film goes behind the images and beyond the myths to portray a man who took those closest to him to the brink of rejection, yet gave the world a diverse and beautiful collection.
In 1943, Filip, a Polish Jew, who managed to escape from the Warsaw ghetto, is waiting tables in the heart of Nazi Germany – while taking revenge on the Nazis in his own unique way. Alone, cosmopolitan, and incapable of deeper feelings, Filip hides his Jewish origins and often eludes death, while carelessly enjoying all the charms of a life surrounded by luxury, beautiful women and friends from all over Europe. This very sexy film is wonderfully addictive.
Through the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre’s partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation we are bringing eye-opening AI technology to Hong Kong. This makes it possible to engage with survivor testimony in an interactive and personal way. In this academic year, students such as those form Malvern College and ESF schools can compare and contrast different survivor testimonies, conduct independent research on individual testimonies and explore the diverse backgrounds of families whose lives were destroyed in the Holocaust. We are also developing educational resources in Chinese and also have survivor testimony from the Nanjing massacre for classroom use.
Recently, HKHTC was delighted to host Dimensions in Testimony (DiT) sessions with the interactive biography of Holocaust survivor Eva Kor at Malvern College for the HKHTC Educational Event Series.
About Eva Kor
Eva Kor was 10 when she and her family stepped off the train in Auschwitz in the fall of 1944. Minutes later an SS officer took her and her twin sister, Miriam, away from their mother, father and two older sisters. The twins never saw the others again. Awaiting the girls was Josef Mengele, “the Angel of Death” who performed unspeakably sadistic experiments on roughly 1,500 sets of twins. When the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945, Eva and Miriam were among the fewer than 200 survivors of Mengele’s atrocities. Kor talked about her ordeal at the hands of Mengele and her decision to forgive.
Eva Kor was one of the female Holocaust survivors to be immortalised in an interactive projection in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Dimensions in Testimony – this is in partnership in Asia with the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre.
On October 7, 2023, a series of unprecedented large-scale and coordinated terrorist atrocities were perpetrated against the State of Israel. Israel finds itself in an ongoing state of war and national emergency.
Many friends and partners of the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre (HKHTC) find themselves under deadly attack.
We at the HKHTC stand in solidarity with Israel and our friends and partners there.
We hope and pray for their safety and mourn their losses.
We extend our most heartfelt sympathies to all the bereaved families who lost loved ones to these heinous and senseless terrorist attacks.
We strongly condemn terrorism.
We stand firm in the fight against antisemitism and intolerance.
We firmly reject any pretence to deny the State of Israel the right to exist and live in peace.
We welcome all efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to a conflict which has caused so much human suffering.
The State of Israel is home to over 147,000 direct survivors of the Shoah. Many escaped the unimaginable barbarism of the Holocaust to rebuild their lives – and families – in Israel. Reports suggest that a wheel-chair bound Holocaust survivor was among the people abducted and currently held hostage.