Joshua Faudem, director
Photo: Peleg Levy

Israeli Embassy withdraws backing from Holocaust film

Film documenting life of survivor who converted, married German soldier deemed 'unethical'

The Israeli Embassy in the Czech Republic has withdrawn support from an Israeli documentary on a Holocaust survivor because she converted to Christianity and married a German soldier.


The film, by Joshua Faudem, was set to premiere on September 13. He created the documentary together with Czech producer Karla Stojáková in 2001, and the two planned the premiere in order to raise funds for a sequel.


But two weeks ago Stojáková was informed that the Israeli Embassy had withdrawn funds intended for the premiere because the film "promotes assimilation" and is unethical in its display of an example of a female Holocaust survivor.

Scene from the film


Faudem sent a letter to Ambassador Yaakov Levy Wednesday morning asking him to revoke the decision. "Your actions are doing real harm to the interests of the Foreign Ministry and the State of Israel," he wrote.


'Trying to erase survival story'

The film, 'A Will to Dance', tells the story of Margit and her love for German soldier Osvalt, who lived in her family's home during the war and attempted to assist them until they were taken to concentration camps. The two found each other again after the war, married and had a daughter.


"If I understand you correctly, the reason for the cancelation of the premiere is that Margit converted to Christianity," Faudem wrote. "The fact that she did so under pressure and out of a will to survive must not mean much to you. This is the survival story of one Jew out of many who survived, and you want to erase it."


Faudem says he traveled to Prague in order to meet with embassy officials, who gave their oral consent, and that only official confirmation had been missing. Now, he says, even if the film receives backing from cultural funds in Israel and the Czech Republic, it probably won't cover costs.


The director adds that the embassy asked him to seek the approval of Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. "It is not their duty to approve films," he said. "But in any case they welcomed my movie."


Indeed, the museum issued a statement that it was not a "moral censor" of films. Faudem quoted it in his letter, and told the ambassador the museum had seen his request for approval as "odd, to say the least".


The Czech Center in Tel Aviv issued a statement of support for the film, and said it would begin playing in cinemas throughout Israel this Saturday.


Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the ambassador may have agreed tentatively to support the film, but after seeing it realized that it was "not something the Israeli embassy could support". He added, however, that the embassy would not condemn the film or prevent anyone from seeing it.



פרסום ראשון: 08.26.10, 08:12
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