Resistant, journalist, bestselling author, philosopher, film director… Claude Lanzmann (87) has led many different lives, all equally fascinating. Most famous for his documentary film Shoah, a unique depiction of the Holocaust described by The Guardian as “one of the most remarkable films ever made”, the French intellectual will give a rare masterclass dedicated to his cinematographic work on Monday 20 February at Ciné Lumière: an unmissable treat for anyone interested in History and films…
One of the last surviving great French intellectuals, Claude Lanzmann cuts a fascinating figure. Born in 1925, he joined the Resistance in 1943 while still at school, helping to build a communist Resistant network in Clermont-Ferrand and taking part in fights against the Nazis in the Auvergne mountains. After the war, he became a close friend of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir -with whom he had a passionate affair- leading with them an anti-colonialist campaign in the 1950s opposing the French war in Algeria. His autobiography, The Patagonian Hare, was a massive bestseller in France, translated into ten languages. To this day, he remains editor in chief of Les Temps Modernes, the cult French cultural magazine founded by Sartre.
However, Lanzmann’s most renowned work remains his 1985 nine-hour hour documentary film Shoah. The director spent six years interviewing eye witnesses to create a poignant oral history of the Holocaust, built on first-person testimonies from Jewish survivors, Polish bystanders and German perpetrators. Poignant and disturbing, the interviews are conducted in a sober, matter of fact manner that contrasts with the horrors told and make them all the more unforgettable. To coincide with the release of his new book in the UK, Lanzmann has accepted to take part in a unique masterclass dedicated to his cinematographic work, illustrated with film clips: a rare chance to hear this legendary filmmaker speak about his inspirational lifetime achievements, passions and commitments.
Cinema Masterclass with Claude Lanzmann, Monday 20 February 2012 8.00pm in Ciné Lumière at the Institut français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT (South Kensington) £12, conc. £10, students £5 www.institut-francais.org.uk