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As a fetish object, it’s impressive. But as a fully satisfying feature-length drama, it’s a bust.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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UN silences Auschwitz survivor

From Bib Hercules, Chicago:

As a champion of independent and challenging films I wanted to let you know of a troubling act of film censorship. My film, "Forgiving Dr. Mengele" (a documentary about Auschwitz survivor Eva Mozes Kor and her controversial decision to forgive the Nazi perpetrators as an act of self-healing) was set to be screened this coming Thursday (1/29/09) at the United Nations in New York as part of their Holocaust Remembrance Day program. Eva and I were stunned to find out this past Tuesday that they had abruptly cancelled the screening due to protests from some Holocaust survivors and unnamed "partner organizations." Incredibly enough, the man who cancelled the screening, U.N. Outreach Director Juan Carlos Brandt, admitted to me he has never watched the film.

While we understand that the film is controversial it actually presents numerous points of view (including several people opposed to Eva's concept of forgiveness). It has been shown around the world to great acclaim. It was the opening night film in three prominent Jewish film festivals (including San Francisco) and was hailed by The Jewish Week as “a genuinely thoughtful vehicle for discussion, debate and real thought.” Every time we've shown the film it has sparked thoughtful and engaging discussion about issues of forgiveness, reconciliation and the need to stop the cycles of hate that contaminate our world.

As I proposed to Mr. Brandt: why not show the film and invite those who disagree with its premise to share in a post-screening discussion? It strikes me as absurd that an organization that is chartered to foster dialogue among nations is instead stifling a film that seeks to address some of the very issues at the core of our ethnic, religious and territorial disputes.

The author is Co-Producer and Director of "Forgiving Dr. Mengele"

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