Tonight in Ottawa - An Important Film on the Holocaust
September 9, 2013, 7 PM
Library & Archives Canada
395 Wellington, Ottawa
Admission: $20 (Students, $10); film, remarks by Professor Jan Grabowski of the University of Ottawa, plus private reception.
Tickets available at the door, and at Compact Music (785 Bank and 206 Bank).
This film was given a special award at the Jerusalem Film Festival by the Yad Vashem Institute.
Aftermath is a film based on one of the most controversial episodes in Poland's World War II history, the Jedwabne massacre of Jews by their Polish neighbours.
Inspired by the 1942 tragedy in which hundreds of Jews were burned alive in a barn, an event long blamed on Nazi Germany, "Poklosie" ("Aftermath") was directed by Wladyslaw Pasikowski.
"I wanted to tell a story that would interest a broad number of Poles because it is one of the most painful parts of our country's history," Pasikowski said recently.
"We already have a huge number of films on the horrors committed by the Soviets and the Germans, and it's time to say what bad things we did ourselves."
The director said he was inspired by "Neighbours", a book by Polish-origin US historian Jan Tomasz Gross, which sent shock-waves across Poland when it was published in 2000.
Gross shed light on the role of local residents in the massacre in the eastern Polish village, sparking a bitter debate in Poland.
According to various historians' estimates, between 340 and 1,500 Jews perished in the massacre.
In 2003, a Polish commission of inquiry concluded that the massacre was perpetrated by Jedwabne's Poles, urged on by the Nazi occupiers, rather than by the latter, as long claimed.
Pasikowski said he was also influenced by French director and Holocaust survivor Claude Lanzmann's 1985 work "Shoah", as well as the documentaries of Poland's Pawel Lozinski.
His film is set in the 1990s, in the wake of the 1989 fall of Poland's post-war communist regime and shortly before the revelations about Jedwabne.
Its message is that covering up the truth of the past can have terrible consequences decades later.