French director and author Claude Lanzmann has passed away.
“Claude Lanzmann was one of the great documentarists. With his depictions of inhumanity and violence, of anti-Semitism and its consequences, he created a new kind of cinematic and ethical exploration. We mourn the loss of an important personality of the political-intellectual life of our time,” says Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick.
Claude Lanzmann's film Shoah (1985) made cinematic history as an unparalleled masterpiece of commemorative culture. The nine-and-a-halfhour documentary on the genocide of European Jews was screened in the Berlinale Forum in 1986 and received numerous international awards.
Born in Paris in 1925 to Jewish parents, Claude Lanzmann fought in the Résistance, studied philosophy in France and Germany, and held a lectureship at the then newly founded Freie Universität Berlin in 1948/49. His exploration of the Shoah, anti-Semitism and political struggles for freedom infuse both his cinematic and journalistic work.
His first film was made in 1972, the documentary Pourquoi Israël (Israel, Why; France 1973), in which he illustrates the necessity of Israel's founding from the Jewish perspective. In the film Tsahal, which screened in the 1995 Berlinale Forum, he focuses on women and men who serve in the Israeli Army. Sobibor, 14 octobre 1943, 16 heures (France 2001), about the 1943 revolt in the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, was also screened in the Berlinale Forum, in 2002.
In 2013, the Berlinale honoured him with an Homage and awarded the Honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement.
July 5, 2018