The director's mother, Mirka Mora, avoided Auschwitz by one day. On his father's side many perished in the Holocaust. These facts triggered three visits to Auschwitz by Mora from 2010 to 2014 in an effort to understand and remember.
Interview with writer/director Philippe Mora
Music composed and performed by Eric Clapton
Why did you make THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ?
I made the film because of my family involvement in this great tragedy. I avoided going to Auschwitz out of natural abhorrence of such a shocking location but finally went in 2010, on the occasion of a retrospective of my films in Wroclaw, Poland (previously Breslau, Germany), which was 2 1/2 hours from Auschwtitz, so I was compelled to visit.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
One assumes that if you are in the audience you have an interest in history, WW2 and the Holocaust.
How is THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ both a personal and a universal story for you?
It is personal because many family members were murdered there simply because they were Jewish. It is universal because at least six million Jewish children, women and men died in WW2 in genocidal actions by the Nazis and there still is no explanation. Racism is still the unexplained curse of humanity.
You directed the documentary SWASTIKA in 1974. How has your understanding of Hitler and the Nazi period developed over this period of time?
I am still trying to find answers and it is an ongoing study for many. Only a couple of years ago a U.S study revealed the existence of 40,000(sic) concentration and slave camps between Berlin and Moscow, previously unknown. I know many more facts about the period, but the reasons for the horror is still shrouded in enigma.
It was convenient for many that Hitler suicided because he could then be blamed for everything. Unfortunately in that process he becomes a larger figure. He was simply a man. I have spoken to people who knew or met Hitler. There were two clear responses: the first was: "This man is incredible," the second was: " I don't get it. This man is a repulsive nut."
Can you tell us about your collaboration with Eric Clapton? You’ve known each other since the 1960s, if I’m not mistaken.
Eric produced my first film TROUBLE IN MOLOPOLIS with Arthur Boyd (sic) in London in 1969, starring Germaine Greer and others. So we go back a long way. We were young artists living with our friend artist Martin Sharp and all we talked about was music, art, film, politics and subjects unrepeatable here. His score is tremendous in my opinion, hitting both the points of tragedy and will to survive. It has grandeur and humility.
What type of feedback have you received so far about the film?
I have received overwhelmingly positive responses. I have made scores of films and one can never predict the reaction, so this is gratifying for this personal approach.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Not really, although it's unusual for a personal approach, but its the only way I could make it. I am just happy to get deep reaction. I guess the film is a form of what we called New Journalism in the Sixties, where the writer inserts himself in the story, which we were trained not to do. Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, Bob Ellis, Hunter S. Thompson and others broke the rules on that.
One critic mentioned she had never heard anything about the Holocaust since school. This may also be a generational aspect, so in my opinion the Holocaust must be studied. Even the term “Holocaust” only took its current meaning in the Sixties from what I can make out.
What type of impact would you like this film to have?
I hope it triggers more ongoing discussion of racism.
What’s a key question that will help to spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What is racism?
What other films are you developing or directing at the moment?
I am editing a serio-comedy called FRENCH MOVIE which is partly a parody and tribute to the New Wave, which had a big influence on me.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Pelligrinis is still great.
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