Yale to Host Preview Screening of Prize-winning Holocaust Documentary

“Witness: Voices from the Holocaust,” an award-winning documentary that weaves together the life stories of 19 Holocaust survivors, will preview at Yale on March 23 at 7:30 p.m.

The film will be aired nationally on PBS on May 1 in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The preview screening will take place at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, 80 Wall St. A discussion and reception will follow the film. The event is free and open to the public.

“Witness” is based on videotaped testimony collected by Yale’s Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, the world’s first survivor video-testimony project. The 86-minute color film has won numerous awards, including the Gold Medal at the Flagstaff International Film Festival, Best Documentary at the Nassau Independent Cinema Expo, Best Social Documentary at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, and the Bronze Medal from the National Educational Media Network.

Historian of the Holocaust Lawrence L. Langer (Simmons College) says the film has “a narrative authenticity rarely encountered in the media,” and called it “an original contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust.”

The School Library Journal urged that it “should be used in every class which is studying the Holocaust,” and called it “a must purchase.”

In conjunction with the release of the documentary, the Fortunoff Video Archive has published a companion book, also titled “Witness: Voices from the Holocaust” (The Free Press). The book weaves a single and compelling narrative out of the first-person accounts of 27 witnesses, including Jews and non-Jews, American POWs, GIs who liberated the camps, a member of the Hitler Youth, a Jesuit priest, resistance fighters and child survivors. Their vivid memories convey what it was like for individuals trapped in a living hell. The book incorporates experiences in the ghettos, concentration and death camps, as well as liberation and post-liberation challenges.

Since 1979, Yale University has videotaped interviews with more than 4,000 Holocaust survivors. The collection, curated by archivist Joanne Rudof, is housed in Sterling Memorial Library.

Connecticut Public Television, the Yale Film Society, the Slifka Center and the Fortunoff Video Archive are sponsoring the preview screening.

Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325