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George and Irina Schaeffer Center

A Work of Mourning Always Incomplete: Claude Lanzmann’s Archive of the Catastrophe

University Room: Omid & Gisel Kordestani Rooftop Conference Center (Q-801)
Thursday, October 3, 2019 - 18:30 to 20:00

In 1973 Claude Lanzmann embarked on the making of his cinematographic opus, Shoah (1985). Over the course of twelve years, he gathered 230 hours of interviews and location filming before editing this material into a nine-and-a-half-hour work. Following the release of Shoah, the unused footage remained scattered between Lanzmann’s basement in Paris and the LTC Film Laboratory in the suburb of Saint-Cloud. In 1996, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) purchased this filmic archive and undertook its restoration and digitization. More than two decades later, the story of this monumental repository of Holocaust testimonies has yet to be told. In this talk, Jennifer Cazenave will recount the making of Shoah between 1973 and 1985 and focus in particular on Lanzmann’s extensive engagement with debates surrounding the emergence of Holocaust memory in Israel, including the landmark Eichmann trial, that he ultimately excluded from the finished film.

Jennifer Cazenave is Assistant Professor of French and Film at Boston University. She is the author of An Archive of the Catastrophe: The Unused Footage of Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah” (SUNY Press, 2019). Her articles on the Holocaust and the Cambodian genocide have appeared in Memory Studies, Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, IdéAs—Idées d’Amérique, and several edited volumes.

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