IFI Stranger Than Fiction (26 – 29 Sep, 2013)
Close to Evil
Sunday, 28th July
Gerry Gregg’s 2008 documentary Till the Tenth Generation followed Tomi Reichental, one of two surviving Holocaust victims living in Ireland, as he returned to Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp to face the horrors of his past. Five years later, Gerry Gregg’s sequel, Close to Evil, follow’s Tomi’s quest to find one of the SS guards who kept him captive, and screens this Saturday at the IFI Stranger Than Fiction documentary film festival.
In 1945, Tomi Reichental was nine years old and starving to death in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where 35 members of his family lost their lives. Close to Evil follows him in his quest to shake the hand of Hilde Lisiewicz, who was one of the SS guards kept Tomi and his family captive. Along the way he reveals a dark secret that Hilde has long kept hidden.
Director Gerry Gregg spoke to Film Ireland:
“We are delighted to see Close to Evil on the Stranger than Fiction programme. Ross Whitaker is a very discerning Programme Director. If he reckons we’re worth a slot we know we have a very strong story to tell.
“The film is in very distinguished company and it is an honour to have an opportunity to show what remains a “work in progress” to a Dublin audience.
“First of all we hope the film will engage that audience and stimulate them to reflect on something they are unlikely to see again- a living holocaust survivor and a hale and hearty convicted SS war criminal dramatically captured on the screen in a manner unlikely to repeated. The victim, Tomi Reichental has reconciliation on his mind: the perpetrator Hilde Lisiewicz outwardly rejects the offer of public redemption but admits to being haunted by the past.
“Secondly, in the August issue of The Oldie magazine, the legendary BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney described the film in these terms: Close to Evil needs proper money to complete it and to pay the crew who worked on it for nothing. It captures a survivor from the darkest page of history trying, honourably and properly to find some kind of closure. He fails, but in trying to do so reveals a human decency that transcends the memory of evil.”
“We hope the screening will convince the Irish Film Board and RTE to commit resources to the project to allow us to finish the job. Hopefully any sales agents or distributors in the audience on the lookout for a unique documentary will come forward and help us to bring the film to as wide an audience as possible.”
There will be a post-screening Q&A with directors Gerry Gregg and Tomi Reichental.
Tickets for all IFI Stranger Than Fiction films and panel discussions are on sale NOW at the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 and can also be booked on www.ifi.ie/stf where you can find out full details all the films and events in IFI Stranger than Fiction.