Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism : Birkbeck University of London
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SHOAH: a masterpiece of twentieth century cinema

Date: Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 April 2013

Film and Discussion: Professor Jane Caplan, Visiting Professor, Birkbeck, University of London and Dr Ludivine Broch, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London

Saturday 27 April 2013
2 pm - 6.30 pm: Part 1

Sunday 28 April 2013
12 noon - 4.30 pm: Part 2
4.30 pm - 5 pm: Break
5-6pm: Round-table Discussion

Venue: Birkbeck, University of London, Cinema Room, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H OPD

Limited Places: This free event is open to staff, students and alumni of Birkbeck and to other members of the University of London. Places are limited. To book your place, please register


SHOAH (Claude Lazmann, 1985) is regarded as one of the great masterpieces of 20th century cinema. Lanzmann’s vision challenged all previous attempts at representing, and remembering, the Holocaust. The film became the bar against which all future Holocaust works would be measured and remains one of the most powerful cinematic experiences of all times. Yet this unique film has also caused controversy – raising questions about how testimony can be manipulated to meet artistic ideals

The screening of SHOAH in two sessions over two consecutive days presents a rare opportunity to see this classic study of the Holocaust in its entirety - nine hours. You may come to the entire showing, or to any part of it, as well as join us for the final round-table discussion.

More about the film

Claude Lanzmann, a Jewish French resister under Vichy, began to record the testimonies of people closely connected with the Holocaust in the 1970s – a journey which would last fifteen years and culminate in the nine-hour documentary-style film, SHOAH. Lanzmann refused to use footage from the time, or attempt any re-enactment of the events; rather, he interviewed survivors, witnesses and perpetrators for hours on end, letting their voices carry the viewer through history. Yet however close these voices take the audience to the ‘truth’ about the Holocaust, there remains a distance. Lanzmann used a series of technical and emotional manipulations to complete his work, and his methods have attracted criticism as well as praise. Lanzmann’s recently-published memoirs The Patagonian Hare (2013, Atlantic Books) give his perspective on the making of the film, while critics such as Dominick LaCapra, ‘Lanzmann’s ‘Shoah’: ‘Here There Is No Why’’, Critical Inquiry Vol. 23, No. 2 (1997), offer a different perspective.