“Zone of Interest”: A Haunting Premiere at Auschwitz Museum

    In a move that bridges the past with the present through the lens of cinema, the Polish premiere of the film “Zone of Interest” is set to unfold within the evocative walls of the Auschwitz Museum on February 15. The film, which has already garnered the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and received five Oscar nominations, is poised to offer a profound cinematic experience at a site laden with historical gravity.

    Directed by Jonathan Glazer, “Zone of Interest” delves into the domestic life of Rudolf Hoess, the architect and first commandant of Auschwitz, presenting an unsettling juxtaposition of idyllic family life against the backdrop of one of history’s darkest chapters. Glazer, along with producers Jim Wilson and Ewa Puszczyńska, and co-producer Bartosz Raiński, are expected to attend the premiere, signaling the importance of this event.

    The film draws its narrative loosely from Martin Amis’s 2014 war novel of the same name, exploring the complex relationship between Rudolf Hoess and his wife, Hedwig, amid the horrors of the Holocaust. By focusing on the daily lives of Hoess’s family within their home’s serene garden, mere meters away from the camp’s crematorium chimneys, “Zone of Interest” ventures into a chilling exploration of normalcy perverted by evil.

    Paweł Sawicki from the Auschwitz Museum’s press office shared insights into the film’s creation, highlighting the collaborative effort with the museum. This partnership involved consultations on script elements, scenography, and the film’s overall message, providing the creators with access to camp documents, survivor accounts, and expert consultations. The dedication to authenticity extended to the production team’s frequent visits to the Memorial Site over five years, employing digital scanning of parts of the camp for accurate recreation, although the final documentary sequences were the only parts filmed on-site, featuring the museum’s work and items left by the victims.

    Rudolf Hoess’s life, from his early involvement with the Nazis to his eventual capture and execution near the very grounds of his atrocities, underscores a chilling narrative of complicity and consequence. The film not only chronicles the stark contrast between the commandant’s family life and the unspeakable horrors committed within Auschwitz but also highlights the courageous efforts of locals from Oświęcim and surrounding areas who provided aid to the camp’s prisoners.

    Following the screening, a discussion featuring Auschwitz Museum director Piotr Cywiński, along with the film’s creators and producers, is planned, promising an engaging dialogue on the film’s impact and the importance of remembering the Holocaust.

    “Zone of Interest” stands as a poignant reminder of the human capacity for both love and cruelty, set against one of the most harrowing settings in human history. Its premiere at the Auschwitz Museum not only honors the memory of the victims but also challenges us to confront the complexities of history through the power of cinema.


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