The UK cinema premiere of Zbyněk Brynych’s award-winning 1962 feature Transport from Paradise, and Maria Saakyan’s lyrical The Lighthouse (2006), plus readings from Anne Michaels’ Correspondences by BAFTA and Palme d’Or winning actor Anamaria Marinca, to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the centenary of the Armenian Genocide.
With thanks to Second Run DVD.
Transport from Paradise (1962) 92 mins; subtitles
Zbyněk Brynych’s award-winning film presents a vivid and realistic picture of the infamous Terezín Ghetto under Nazi control during World War II. Terezín (or Theresienstadt) was an international marshalling community in Czechoslovakia where thousands of Jews from around Europe were held before being told they were being transferred to Nazi ‘work camps’. The inhabitants are forced to participate in a sickening charade to convince an imminent Red Cross delegation that normal life continues in the Ghetto. Gradually, a sense of the cold grip of terror gathers as the Nazi’s grotesque preparations for genocide become clear.
Scripted by survivor Arnošt Lustig (Diamonds of the Night), based on his personal experiences and filmed in Terezín itself, Transport from Paradise is a profoundly affecting drama shot through with moments of strange and intense beauty. This powerful and haunting feature is presented for the first time ever in the UK.
The Lighthouse (2006) 75 mins; subtitles
Maria Saakyan’s elegiac, semi-autobiographical, humanist drama unfolds against the backdrop of the Caucasus wars that plagued Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan during the early 1990s. Told with a dream-like emphasis on vision and sound this is the story of a young woman, Lena, who returns to her home in a remote, war-ravaged Armenian village to try and persuade her grandparents to leave with her for safety in Moscow. With a striking emphasis on the cinematic image and set to an hypnotic soundtrack by Finnish composer Kimmo Pohjonen, this study of Lena’s return to her homeland combines documentary with the great visual tradition of the cinema of Tarkovsky and Paradjanov to become a poetic journey of discovery. It is an outstanding directorial debut, and an immensely moving experience.
Anamaria Marinca is a Romanian actor. She made her screen debut with the Channel 4 film Sex Traffic, for which she won the BAFTA for Best Actress. Marinca is also known for her astonishing lead performance in 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or in 2007.
Canadian novelist (Fugitive Pieces) and poet Anne Michaels‘ resonant book-length poem Correspondences – which unfolds on one side of the pages of an accordion-style book – ranges from the universal to the intimate, as she writes of historical figures for whom language was the closest thing to salvation; on the other side, we have Bernice Eisenstein’s luminous portraits of and quotes from such twentieth-century writers and thinkers as Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, W. G. Sebald, Anna Akhmatova, Primo Levi, and Albert Einstein. The poetry and portraits join together in a dialogue that can be read in any direction and any order, in a format that perfectly reflects the thematic interconnectedness of this collaboration: “an alphabet of spirits and spirit; an elegy of remembrance” (Eisenstein); “just as a conversation becomes the third side of the page . . . the moment one life becomes another” (Michaels).