Archives for posts with tag: Humanity

This is the title of a documentary film that I saw today, the final day of the UK Jewish Film Festival, at the Tricycle cinema.

What a cinematic gem it is, a profoundly moving and authentic piece of art, which is so affirmative, and reassuring, of the goodness that humans are indeed capable of. And more importantly, a goodness and a genuine caring of the other, which transcends that most divisive of forces, religion.

The film tells the story of Albanian Muslims who protected Jews from the Nazis in WWII. Unlike almost all other countries, Albania welcomed Jews during the Holocaust, and we hear the stories of some of the very many Muslim families who sheltered the refugees, despite the inherent dangers to themselves, as well as the those of the Jewish people and their descendants who, as a result of the humanity they received, managed to survive the war.

Albania was the only country where the number of Jews increased from pre-war, approximately 200, to post-war, approximately 2000. It remains a relatively poor country.

Albanians see themselves as just that Рnot as Muslims or Orthodox or Christians Рbut as the people of Albania, and all of whom share and enact Besa, an honour code that offers assistance to all those who knock on their doors looking for help.

Besa: The Promise is a gripping and humbling story, which concerns a nation that lost so much during WWII and even more so in the subsequent communist years, but which nonetheless holds steadfastly to the notion of kindness and and generosity towards those in need, irrespective of religion and creed.

CQ

I have seen all of Michael Haneke’s films to date, and so, unsurprisingly, I very much looked forward to his latest creation, Amour, which I saw tonight.

I am not sure I fully understand my fascination with Haneke’s work. It probably results from a combination of factors, from its ability to simultaneously surprise, seduce, shock, distress, and disturb.

Amour has been much hyped, particularly since its Palme D’Or accolade at Cannes in May. There have been many reviews, and 5-star ratings, and a further, albeit much more pedestrian, review would be superfluous. What I can share, is how the film made me feel. Or, I should qualify, how it made me feel during the screening and immediately afterwards. I suspect that over the next days, much more will evolve personally from my experience of seeing Amour.

I found it extraordinary. But in a different way to his other work. I found it extraordinary in how it moved me, and also in the extent to which it disturbed me, much more than Benny’s video or The Seventh Continent.¬†I suspect this results from the fact that the subject matter for Amour is so ‘ordinary’ and real and human, that this, perhaps perversely makes the work feel so important, and critical. Essentially, it is the potential story of you or me, and our frailties and vulnerabilities. Perhaps life doesn’t get more scary than that.

I wondered whether, having seen the film in a pretty packed cinema on a Friday night, such a topic would have been so welcome in mainstream cinema 10, even 5 years ago…

Progress, of sorts.

Go see.

CQ