I still believe, in-spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart – Anne Frank, July 15, 1944. Shortly after she wrote these words, Anne was taken from her hiding place. She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in February 1945 at the age of 15 and was buried in a mass grave.
#AnneFrank Parallel Stories is a powerful documentary retelling of Anne Frank’s life through the pages of her extraordinary diary. The film is narrated by actress Helen Mirren and examines the lives of five women who, as young girls, were also deported to concentration camps but survived the Holocaust. The film will be shown at the Sunrise Theater on Sunday, March 8 at 4pm and on Thursday, March 12 at 10am.
Pinehurst resident and Holocaust survivor, Ralph Jacobson will introduce the film at the Sunrise and discuss his childhood in Nazi Germany and his own connection to Anne Frank. Ralph was a schoolmate to Peter van Pels, the boy who shared Anne’s hiding space before being sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Ralph will be joined on stage with his wife Vivian whom he met on a blind date in 1957. Since 1978 Vivian has been a lecturer on Marc Chagall, the renowned French painter from the 20th century. She most recently lectured at UNC Pembroke and Sandhills Community College’s “An Evening with Elvis and Chagall”. Ralph and Vivian were instrumental in bringing live simulcasts of the Bolshoi Ballet and Metropolitan Opera to the Sunrise Theater with Ralph serving on the special committee.
Ron Layne, Sandhills Community College instructor in English and Film, will conduct the Question/Answer discussion following each showing. Ron was part of the tri-faculty launch of SCC’s Holocaust course, which examines the chronicles of this dark chapter in human history through historical documents, literature, and film.
As a dedication to what would have been her 90th anniversary – and in cooperation with the Anne Frank Foundation – the documentary takes audiences into Anne’s room within the secret annex of her family’s hiding place before being deported. Excerpts of her diary are intertwined with the experiences of the survivors who lived to tell their own parallel stories. The five Holocaust survivors were teenage girls just like her, with the same ideals, the same desire to live: Arianna Szörenyi, Sarah Lichtsztejn-Montard, Helga Weiss and sisters Andra and Tatiana Bucci. These women tell their stories, like Arianna, deported when she was 11, when she recalls meetings with her mother through the barbed wire at Auschwitz – but they also tell their stories with strength, defiance, and irony.
As part of the film, a young actress named Martina Gatti guides viewers through the places that were part of Anne Frank’s life and those of the Holocaust survivors. She is a young girl of today who wants to know about the story of the Jewish teenager who became a symbol of the greatest tragedy to befall the 20th Century.
Martina writes a sort of digital diary that speaks to her peers: a swift, effective way to place the tragedies of the past in relation to the present, to understand what an antidote could be today against all forms of racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism. It is her curiosity, her desire not to remain indifferent that allows us to rediscover how absolutely contemporary Anne Frank’s words are, but also how powerful are the words of those who can still remember – those of Arianna, Sarah, Helga, Andra and Tatiana, and their parallel stories.
Tickets to this meaningful and moving documentary are $15 and are available at SunriseTheater.com, at the Sunrise office or by calling 910-692-3611. Group discounts and private showings are also available by calling the Sunrise Theater office.