8 May 16
Philippe Mora has joined forces with Eric Clapton to co-produce “Three Days in Auschwitz”, a documetary about Mora’s family during the Holocaust. Written and directed by Mora, the score was composed by Clapton. Of the score, Mora says [it] is simply an amazing piece of music, somehow magically combining the tragedy and then the spirit of survival and celebration of life that Auschwitz also represents. This score is one for the ages, and I am very proud to have had the collaboration with the maestro.”
“Three Days in Auschwitz” grew out of Mora’s personal investigation of the time after he learned his mother, Mirka, avoided death in Auschwitz by one day and that his father fought against the Nazis in the French Resistance alonside his godfather, Marcel Marceau, the world-famous mime. On his father’s side, eight family members perished in the Holocaust.
The filmaker writes on his website, “In 2010 I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps for the first time and filmed the visit. I knew many of my relatives had been killed there. Incredibly, that year I also found over 250 documents from Poland and Leipzig, documenting the fate of seven Morawski family members. In 2012, I revisited the camps again with my friend Harald Grosskopf, with whom I had made the documentary German Sons. The two visits triggered an ongoing personal investigation into the matrix of Holocaust Restitution, with the Morawskis, my murdered family, as a portal into the shocking world of Nazi barbarism and looting. With billions of dollars unaccounted for, for millions of victims and heirs, the issue remains an open wound, the legacy of unprecedented crimes against humanity. This film documents this odyssey into the heart of evil, past and present.”
He told Where’s Eric! that “This was a unique and trusting collaboration between old friends. I was simply blown away by Eric’s score for this film which combined the tragedy of the events with a celebration of life. He created music with great dignity and emotional power. In my opinion, this is one for the ages.”
Clapton’s and Mora’s friendship goes back to 1967, when both resided at the artist’s colony, The Pheasantry, on the King’s Road, Chelsea. Mora had recently moved to London from Australia to make his mark in art and filmmaking. Clapton produced the director’s first film, “Trouble in Molopolis” (1969). Twenty years later, the guitarist composed music for Mora’s alien encounter film, “Communion,” which starred Academy Award and BAFTA winning actor Christopher Walken.
Mora recently told the Jewish Telegraph how the guitarist came to be involved in the project.“Eric approached me – I didn’t know he even had an interest in the subject. He said, ‘Do you want me to do the score?’. I said, ‘Are you kidding me? It’ll be sensational!’.” The music also caused Mora to alter the narrative. “The first time I listened to Eric’s score, I changed the film’s direction. I made it more of a contemplative piece rather than an in-your-face one. I thought the audience should feel it. I don’t think you should lecture your audience. They should figure it out for themselves, although I know that can sometimes be controversial.”
“Three Days In Auschwitz” debuted at the New Horizons International Film Festival in Poland on 24 July 2015. Over the ensuing months, it garnered rave reviews on the festival circuit. It will be released on DVD on 16 May by Screenbound Pictures. It is available from amazon.co.uk and the DVD is coded for all regions.
REVIEWS FOR THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ:
“‘Three Days In Auschwitz’ is co-produced and scored by Mora’s old friend and rock/blues legend Eric Clapton; whose arrangements and unmistakable dulcet guitar tones vary from the uplifting to the sombre, but always tinged with a bittersweet and melancholic quality.
Mora combines location handheld moving camera shots, interviews, artistic shots and quotes from historical documents to both inform and warn the audience about the horrors of the Holocaust, but it’s clear that ‘Three Days In Auschwitz’ is a personal piece of cinematic therapy to try and make sense of the events that shaped his life, and get some sort of closure.”
Three Days In Auschwitz isn’t a traditional documentary – it’s very much through the eyes of Mora, often using hand-held camera to capture snippets and moments at the concentration camp. He calls his own documentary ‘cinematic notes about Auschwitz’, and the piece feels like a digital notepad, with Mora’s musings set against various imagery. Many of his asides to camera feel like a stream of consciousness, thoughts brought to the fore by his investigation. Scored by Eric Clapton, music plays a large part in Three Days In Auschwitz. It creates a mood and atmosphere that ties-in with Mora’s investigation.
Unlike other Auschwitz documentaries which present the facts, THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ is a very personal view of the atrocities of the concentration camp. Several of Mora’s family perished there and his mother Mirka explains how she escaped the camp a day before she should have been deported on a train by pure chance. The film mixes archive footage with interview clips from Mora’s family, as well as Mora’s own illustrations and paintings to tell his personal story.
The 55-minute documentary is described by Mora as “cinematic notes for my grandchildren” and as such, plays very much like a home video. While the director experiments with some interesting shots, juxtaposing lingering close ups of the barbed wire fences inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps with panoramic shots of visitors walking through the site, the overall pace of the piece is very slow and some of the footage is repeated throughout.
That said, there are plenty of things to like about THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ, most notably the haunting score by Eric Clapton, a personal friend of the director. Clapton’s music captures the emotion and tragedy of the events, the haunting sound of his guitar piece making the sometimes harrowing footage, incredibly difficult to watch.
WATCH THE TRAILER:
THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ – DVD
Actors: Philippe Mora, Mirka Mora
Director: Philippe Mora
Producers: Philippe Mora and Eric Clapton
Format: Dolby, PAL
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Screenbound Pictures
DVD Release Date: 16 May 2016
Run Time: 60 minutes
CLICK HERE to order from Amazon.co.uk