Night Will Fall

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antnield
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Night Will Fall

#1 Post by antnield » Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:40 am

The latest Raygun newsletter, reveals this has been picked by the BFI for theatrical and home entertainment distribution:
[The BFI] has picked up Night Will Fall, a documentary that follows the liberation of Nazi concentration camps at the end of the Second World War and the attempts to record the atrocities. The deal includes home entertainment formats, with the film likely to be released early in 2015 after its theatrical outing in the autumn. Commenting on the deal, the BFI’s Jane Giles said: “Night Will Fall is a must-see film which combines a fascinating story of filmmaking and archives with heart-breaking testimonies to the horrors of the camps. We’re very proud to be bringing it to audiences across the UK this autumn.”
When Allied forces liberated the Nazi concentration camps in 1944-45, their terrible discoveries were recorded by army and newsreel cameramen, revealing for the first time the full horror of what had happened.

Making use of British, Soviet and American footage, the Ministry of Information's Sydney Bernstein (later founder of Granada Television) aimed to create a documentary that would provide lasting, undeniable evidence of the Nazis' unspeakable crimes. He comissioned a wealth of British talent, including editor Stewart McAllister (acclaimed for his work with Humphrey Jennings), writer and future cabinet minister Richard Crossman - and, as treatment advisor, his friend Alfred Hitchcock. Yet, despite initial support from the British and and US governments, the film was shelved, and only now, 70 years on, has it been restored and completed by Imperial War Museums. This eloquent, lucid documentary by Andre Singer (executive producer of the award-winning The Act of Killing) tells the story of the filming of the camps and the fate of Bernstein's project, using original archive footage and eyewitness testimonies.

Narrated by Helena Bonham Carter.

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MichaelB
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Re: Night Will Fall

#2 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:42 pm

I suspect this is what Toby Haggith of the Imperial War Museum has been working on for years (I remember talking about it with him way back in 2008!), and I'm glad to see that the BFI has picked it up for distribution.

And I'm equally glad to see that Stewart McAllister is mentioned before Alfred Hitchcock - it's easy to see the marketing appeal of "the Hitchcock concentration camp film", but it's pretty clear that McAllister (who in 1945 was one of the best film editors in the business) had far more creative input.

olmo
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Re: Night Will Fall

#3 Post by olmo » Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:14 pm

This sounds a worthy if difficult venture. I still remember the one or two World at War episodes dedicated to this subject a harrowing experience, though I think it should be viewed.

It's hard to imagine that there is footage which hasn't been seen before or used in other projects; the aforementioned World at War, Ophul's 'Sorrow & The Pity' etc. The pedigree of those involved however, can't really be argued with.

Look forward to this release, if that's not the wrong sentiment.

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antnield
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Re: Night Will Fall

#4 Post by antnield » Wed Sep 03, 2014 6:29 pm


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RobertB
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Re: Night Will Fall

#5 Post by RobertB » Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:05 pm

Is it correct that Resnais didn't receive any of this footage when making Nuit et brouillard? Did he try to get it?

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antnield
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Re: Night Will Fall

#6 Post by antnield » Mon Nov 03, 2014 4:57 pm

Special features

- Q&A with André Singer, Sally Angel, Toby Haggith and David Cesarani (2014, 13 mins): filmed at the BFI Southbank
- Interviews with historians (2014): Jeremy Hicks at Auschwitz, David Cesarani at Buchenwald, and Rainer Schulze at Belsen
- Survivor interviews (2014)
- On Reflection (2014): featurette revisiting German Concentration Camps Factual Survey
- Caroline Moorehead interview on the rediscovery of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey footage in 1985
- Interview with Dr Toby Higgith, IWM's Senior Curator
- Archive films: Death Mills (Billy Wilder, 1945, 22 mins); Oswiecem aka Auschwitz (1945, 21 mins); Belsen Death Camp Leaders Meet Justice (1945, 1 min)
- Still Gallery
- Booklet with new essays and complete film credits
- NB. All extras TBC and subject to potential change

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MichaelB
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Re: Night Will Fall

#7 Post by MichaelB » Fri Jan 09, 2015 7:08 am

Full specs announced:
Night Will Fall
A film by André Singer
Narrated by Helena Bonham Carter

Night Will Fall powerfully documents the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Using moving eyewitness testimonies, it reveals how combat and newsreel cameramen filmed the shocking scenes they encountered, and why, in 1945, a documentary aimed at proving the terrible events took place was never finished.

After acclaim at film festivals and a theatrical release last September, Night Will Fall will be on Channel 4 this month to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day, and then released by the BFI on DVD on 2 February 2015, with a host of contextualising extras including short films and exclusive interviews.

When Allied forces liberated the concentration camps, their terrible discoveries were recorded by army cameramen, revealing for the first time the horror of what had happened. In 1945, the Ministry of Information’s Sidney Bernstein (later the founder of Granada TV) commissioned a documentary using British, Soviet and American footage to provide lasting, undeniable evidence of the Nazis’ crimes. His top British filmmaking team included writer and future cabinet minister Richard Crossman, editor Stewart McAllister and, as treatment adviser, Alfred Hitchcock. Yet, despite initial support from the British and US governments, the film was shelved.

In this compelling documentary by André Singer (executive producer, The Act of Killing), the full story of the filming of the camps and the fate of Bernstein’s project, which has now been restored and completed by Imperial War Museums, can finally be told.

Among the special features on this release are Death Mills (1945), co-directed by Billy Wilder, which used some of the same archival footage, and previously unseen interviews with three of the historians involved in the production of Night Will Fall, and with Caroline Moorehead, journalist and Sidney Bernstein biographer.

Special features
• Original trailer
Death Mills (Hanuš Burger and Billy Wilder, 1946, 22 mins): US propaganda film about the Nazi concentration camps
Oświęcim (Auschwitz) (1945, 22 mins): Russian propaganda film
Belsen Death Camp Leaders Meet Justice (1945, 2 mins): short newsreel about the Nuremberg trials
Night Will Fall – Panel Discussion (2014, 13 mins)
• An Interview with Dr Jeremy Hicks at Auschwitz Concentration Camp (2014, 24 mins)
• An Interview with Professor Rainer Schulze at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp (2014, 28 mins)
• An interview with Professor David Cesarani at Buchenwald Concentration Camp (2014, 25 mins)
• An Interview with Caroline Moorehead (2014, 13 mins)
• Stills gallery
• Illustrated booklet with credits and essays by Nick James, André Singer, Sally Angel, Toby Haggith and Patrick Russell

Product details
RRP: £19.99 / cat. no. BFIV2022 / Cert 15 / 75 mins
UK, Germany, France, Israel, USA, Denmark / 2014 / colour, black and white / English, Hebrew and Russian, with optional English subtitles, English hard-of-hearing subtitles, optional audio description track / DVD9 / original aspect ratio 1.78:1 / Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio

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ola t
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Re: Night Will Fall

#8 Post by ola t » Fri Jan 09, 2015 8:30 am

Notably the complete German Concentration Camps Factual Survey is not included. André Singer mentioned during his Q&A at CPH DOX last year that there had been heated internal discussions at the Imperial War Museum about whether to allow it to be shown without any surrounding context (i.e. not integrated into Night Will Fall or potential future documentaries), and said he believed they would decide not to.

If I remember correctly, Night Will Fall incorporates about 15 minutes of excerpts from German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.

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MichaelB
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Re: Night Will Fall

#9 Post by MichaelB » Fri Jan 09, 2015 8:47 am

I suspect if the IWM releases it at all, it will be in a thoroughly contextualised edition of their own - which is how I originally assumed it would emerge.

The IWM can be quite sensitive about context, for entirely understandable reasons. For instance, I believe they vetoed the inclusion of actual nuclear civil defence films from the early 1960s on the BFI's long-OOP release of The War Game, presumably because they were the films that Peter Watkins was specifically reacting against.

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colinr0380
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Re: Night Will Fall

#10 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Jan 25, 2015 10:37 am

I haven't received the BFI disc yet but am writing this from the screening on Channel 4 last night:

A difficult film, and not just to watch. This is all about the filming of the discovery and liberation of the concentration camps as the Allies moved across Nazi occupied territory. The first half of the film is interesting but plays relatively straight as a documentary, dealing with the shock of witnessing the horrors and including contemporary (or near contemporary) interviews with either the liberators or those inside the camp. This includes a couple of 'then and now' moments of showing people in the footage and as they are now, which were interesting but which also made me slightly uneasy, as it reminded me a little too much of the nostalgic use of the same technique in the BBC Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon/Friese-Greene series. Except instead of someone being picked out of a street scene for their current relatives to reminisce about, instead it is emaciated people with their faces pressed up against barbed wire fences as their current selves marvel that they survived at all.

If the film had stayed in that register I perhaps would not have thought as highly of it, but the second half moves into the post-war attempts at gathering together disparate footage from the various Allies in order to create a kind of definitive (and perhaps naively impossible given what follows) account of the Holocaust. However immediately this gets compromised in many different ways, from needing to use material for war crimes trials (the first moving picture documentation of atrocities used to subsequently prosecute?), to classical censorship of extremely horrific images to spare audiences from being exposed to some of the sights. Which is understandable, particularly since this is documentary footage of the corpses of real people - there are some images in here that are extremely horrific, particularly the final procession past the bodies at the side of the road showing bullet impacts, people with half of their heads missing, or hollowed out heads with the brains in the grass next to them.

Then the entire project seems to implode on itself as the Allied nations appear to split apart into wanting to create a 'story of the camps' that would best appeal to their individual home nation audiences. The idea of any man's inhumanity to any man getting in some ways 'safely' distilled down into the Nazi's inhumanity to the Jews, isolating the horrors into one event in one period of time. The film gets into Billy Wilder and Death Mills and its use of footage that has previously been shown earlier in the documentary with the addition of a more triumphalising moralistic voiceover on top of it, shocking the viewer but also saying that the horror has somehow been stopped.

Even the pure need to document piles of bodies or the prisoners, just to prove that such an event occurred to naysayers in some ways gets compromised, as in the section in which the filmmakers get some of the children (according to the now adult subject in the contemporary interview) wearing the most photogenic striped uniforms to lead a procession between two barbed wire fences. This documentary does allow the suggestion that re-creation of those kind of events allowed the sense of the horrors of the Holocaust to be witnessed by more people more powerfully. But there is an ambiguity there of seeing how 'real events' can be composed according to a filmmaker's intentions. It is not all just captured serendipitously.

And that I think makes the second half of the documentary extremely powerful. It is perhaps less about the Holocaust, or even the concentration camps, but about the inherent contradictions (and perhaps callous cruelties, in the way that it uses up and then discards images of real people, alive or dead) of the documentary medium itself: the choices and decisions made by the 'first responders', the choices and decisions made by the different parties then working from the same raw footage that is captured, and the way that even the worst horrors can eventually be packaged for the needs of different audiences, or to fulfill different purposes.

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