Claude Lanzmann

Claude Lanzmann

French director, reporter, and documentary filmmaker. As a teenager, he was in the French resistance movement (he fought in Auvergne), and later he protested against the war in Algeria. He is a graduate of the Sorbonne and a lecturer in French literature and philosophy at the Free University of Berlin. He was also the first French journalist to travel illegally through the communist German Democratic Republic. The product of his travels was a series of reportages published in Le Monde. After reading them, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir invited Lanzmann to work with the leftist publication Le Temps Modernes, of which he is the editor to this day. He rose to international fame for his film Shoah – an oral history of the Holocaust, in which Lanzmann presented the testimony of Jews, Poles, and Germans, passing over historical documentary sources. He wanted to present a first-person narrative by participants in the war. From the 350 hours of material shot, Lanzmann edited together a nine-and-a-half hour-long film. It took him eleven years. Shoah does not contain a single archival document, nor a single photograph, nor any quotation from the chronicles of those times. The hero of the film is Lanzmann himself. His other films: Why Israel? (1972), Tsahla (1994), Sobibor (2001), and The Karski Report (2010) – a poignant documentary and a polemic against the book by Yannick Haenel, in which the author dangerously uses literary fiction in speaking about the actions of the famed Polish emissary Jan Karski. At the end of October 2010, his autobiography Le Lièvre de Patagonie (The Patagonian Hare) was released in Poland as Zając z Patagonii. The Second Joseph Conrad International Literary Festival was feature his much talked-about films Sobibor and The Karski Report. pic. C. HÈlie Gallimard