Condemned to Remember by Tom
As part of my Transition Year Work Experience, I was able to partake in an IFI Schools Programme screening of the documentary “Condemned to Remember” (2017). This film is the third in a trilogy of documentaries by Emmy award-winning Irish filmmaker Gerry Gregg, that documents the life of Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental.
Gregg’s first two films about Tomi, “Till the Tenth Generation” (2009) and the award-winning “Close to Evil” (2014) were hugely popular both in Ireland and throughout the rest of Europe. They are also the reason “Condemned to Remember” was made, acting as a sort of closure to Tomi’s incredible set of films.
As a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, to which he was sent when only nine years old, Tomi is determined to keep the dark memories of the Holocaust alive to ensure that nothing as horrific ever happens again. However, as the documentary explores, Europe may not have learned from it’s past.
Most of the documentary is set in mainland Europe where Tomi explores Holocaust memorials in Poland, Germany and Slovakia. Each memorial has its own tragic story attached that highlights the true destruction of the Jewish community in the Second World War
The film starts at Tomi’s 80th birthday party, an occasion he never thought he would get the chance to see. He is invited to a Dublin mosque to talk about his experiences and to celebrate with others. This sets him off on his journey to discover the past and near future of an ever-changing Europe.
The documentary is divided into different sections covering stories from both the past and present. We see Tomi’s unsuccessful attempt to confront SS war criminal Hilde Michnia, his growing concerns over Marion Kolbe’s far right political party in Slovakia and also of the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis that occurred in the small Polish village of Jedwabne in 1941.
On his journey, Tomi relates to the millions of Syrian refugees today who are going through experiences of exile and racism today, which he experienced almost 70 years ago. He then meets with survivors of the 1990’s genocide of the Muslim community in Bosnia. Tomi brings up some startling truths stating “We have to be careful that history doesn’t repeat itself.”
These stories, along with some personal stories of Tomi’s family, make up the running of the documentary. “Condemned to Remember” is a tough watch in places as it is quite emotional. It focuses on the history of Europe and issues that are relevant today and this helped me recognise in more detail the tragedy that was the Holocaust and its aftermath.
Along with the screening of the documentary, there was a follow-up Q & A with director Gerry Gregg, Shaykh Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri (The Head-Imam of Al-Mustafa Islamic Educational & Cultural Centre Ireland who featured in the film) and Tomi Reichental himself. The students were given the opportunity to ask questions of the panel. Some questions were about the production of the film, or about Tomi’s family but also how to combat racism and xenophobia. Gerry told the students how he met Tomi through a contact at RTÉ and how Tomi was willing to redo takes to make the film as strong as possible. A student asked if Tomi got to meet his father at the end of the war; Tomi explained how his father escaped Nazi custody by jumping off a moving train, then joined the partisans to fight the Nazis and how they were reunited after the war after believing each other was dead.
Shaykh was asked how we can fight racism. His answer was clear: Education. He explained that by teaching children at a young age about other cultures, everyone can live a safer and happier life, accepting our differences. He said that Ireland and its culture are changing, and that we should change with it.
Overall, the event was a great success. In collaboration with the Holocaust Education Trust, Ireland, the students were given Holocaust Memorial Day 2017 books giving them a chance to learn more about the event. The film is a truly fantastic experience and I highly recommend that everyone sees it, just like Tomi wants. It is vital we keep the memory of the Holocaust alive to educate the future generations. Nov 2017
La La Land Review by Kate
My name is Kate and I am 16 years old. I am in Transition Year in Holy Faith Clontarf. I play GAA and I coach football on Saturday mornings to the 3-5 year olds. I have always loved films and TV shows and the possibility of exploring them. I enjoyed my time in the IFI and found it interesting and beneficial. During my placement I was able to see a screening of the Oscar-nominated film La La Land and here’s my review.
Inspiring, effervescent and surprise are only three words to describe the outstanding film La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle. La La Land is a 21st century musical with aspect of old Hollywood classics such as Singing in the rain. Set in modern day Los Angeles, it’s about the joys and pain of everyday life.
The storyline blew me away, every song was brilliant and all the musical set pieces complimented the songs in such outstanding fashion.
When I first saw the trailer I thought it was going to be another romantic film but it was much more. I now understand why this movie has been nominated for 14 Oscars and has won 7 Golden Globes. As soon as the film started, I didn’t want it to end.
Without giving away any spoilers, the first scene is bursting with colours, creativity and imagination, starting off with a bang of song and dance which would make you want to get up and dance.
The story revolves around an ambitious jazz pianist [Ryan Gosling] and an aspiring actress [Emma Stone] who fall in love while perusing their dreams of stardom and fame. LA appears as a city where hopes and dreams are crushed, but it also might just be the place where dreams actually do come true. Mia and Sebastian are both struggling to make ends meet, with Mia’s acting career not going quite to plan and Sebastian’s jazz dream not working out the way he had hoped. Both find each other just when they need each other’s help and support.
It seems like once they meet they will live happily ever after, but there are many obstacles to Mia and Sebastian happiness.
The musical remained enticing throughout which made me an even bigger fan of this dazzling classic Hollywood musical.
Since I have seen the film I can’t stop thinking about it. In my opinion I think this will turn out to be a classic film that people 50 years later will still be in awe of. I would recommend it for people of all ages. Feb 2017
3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets review by Sophia
‘3 ½ minutes, ten bullets’ narrates the story of the 2012 murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn in Jacksonville, Florida in a gas station after an altercation over loud music.
‘3 ½ minutes, ten bullets’ is part of the IFI’s Portraits of America 3-part series. This series is offers different views of the U.S.A and is part of their Transition Year programme.
Marc Silver, the director, was granted access to film inside Michael Dunn’s trial. He was also able to access Dunn’s private phone calls and interview tapes. Whilst only being miniscule additions these really benefit the documentary as a whole in creating an extra layer of realism.
In the film, you are presented with the impression that Michael Dunn has a brilliant defence. I believe that this impression has created to ensure uncertainty in the audience about the verdict and create tension but it can be slightly misleading if someone has not done prior research.
Another small issue with the portrayal of Michael Dunn is we get next to no background information on this individual. I understand that this is a documentary about the shooting itself although after going into such depth to create a background for Jordan Davis it would have been interesting to see some outside opinions on Dunn from the perspective of neighbours or friends. Though I feel the information was purposefully disregarded by Marc Silver in an attempt to dehumanise Michael Dunn, which is justified.
The film is a straight-forward, emotional thriller. The court scenes are well-edited and get to the point whilst not neglecting to include key moments. The inclusion of home videos, memories of Jordan from friends and protests for the justice he deserved truly personify his character through the film and highlight that this was not just a shooting, this was a racially-charged murder. What makes this film so effective is that it has the suspense of a crime-drama in addition to the passion and authenticity of a biography that you just can’t help but become immersed in.
In my opinion, I would rate this film 4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this film to anyone mature enough to fully understand/appreciate it, those with an interest in the U.S.A’s gun laws or anyone researching into racially motivated crimes. Jan 2017
The Hunger Games Review by Owen
My name’s Owen and I am 16 years old. I go to school in St. Kevin’s CC in Wicklow. I play drums and guitar and hope to learn many more instruments. My two passions are music and film. I really enjoyed my Work Experience in the IFI. I got to try out everything I wanted, and even some other things I hadn’t expected such as elements of graphic design.
On one of the days, I sat in on a schools screening of The Hunger Games, showing as part of the IFI Schools programme for TY. The film, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, is set in a dystopian future. Katniss Everdeen and her family live in one of the twelve oppressed districts that are harassed by The Capital. Since the twelve districts failed rebellion, The Capital has been striking fear into the citizens by randomly selecting a teen boy and girl from each district to fight to the death in what’s known as The Hunger Games. When Katniss’ little sister, Prim, is chosen as a representative for District 12, sixteen year old Katniss volunteers to take her part instead.
To me, it seemed like the film was split into two parts. The first part shows us life in the poorer districts. It shows us the random selection of names, and how everyone gets ready for this ‘tradition’. It shows us the media coverage and the support from the viewers, particularly those in The Capital, and it shows us the lead up to the Games. The second part of the film is the Hunger Games themselves and the effort it takes to be the last survivor.
One of the most interesting things to see was the way the media, as portrayed in the film, reacted to these traditions such as the name selection. Almost like an extreme version of The Truman Show, the media gives full coverage of these Games like a reality show. In the build up to the Games, there are various shows and interviews to get to know each participant, as if the media wants the viewers to pick favourites and to have someone to root for. In a time that people are obsessed with reality TV and even in some cases violence when it comes to boxing or the UFC, I think some parts of the movie can even be very relatable.
With an added intensity from the sometimes quick camera cuts, Jennifer Lawrence’s brilliant performance and the setting, The Hunger Games was an enjoyable and frantic movie, which will keep you stimulated and on the edge of your seat.
After ‘16 review by Tom
My name is Tom and I am sixteen years old. I am in transition year in CBC Monkstown. I play and coach soccer for my local club. I love watching films and TV shows. I really enjoyed my week at the IFI. I found it entertaining and informative. Overall I think it was a great experience.
As part of the 1916 centenary events at the IFI, the education department screened a selection of short films from After ’16, the once off short film initiative from the Irish Film Board. Many schools came along to watch the films and participate in a Q&A session with the filmmakers. There were six films in total and some took a dark and starkly realistic approach, while others commemorated events in a more comedic and entertaining way. I think that the audience benefited from the fact that the films were so different because by the time they left the cinema they had been entertained, informed, shocked and amazed.
The first film, My life in Ireland, directed by Kieran Walsh, caught the audience off-guard with its comedic tone. Its combination of satire and wit was a nice break from the serious attitude that other films about the Rising took. This was followed by Mr Yeats and the Beastly Coins, whose director described it as a film that showed W.B Yeats as a politician and not just a poet. I think the film worked very well because not only did it show Yeats as a Senator but it also explored how Irish people see themselves. The next film was The Cherishing, a brilliantly directed and harrowing film that dealt with the children who were killed in the Rising. The producer Liam Ryan came in to introduce his work. The fourth film of the day was the fantastic animated film, A Terrible Hullabaloo, written by Aoife Noonan, which succeeded in being funny and informative as it followed a young soldier in Boland’s Mill. The next film, Baring Arms, focused on tattoos people got about the Rising and why they got them. The final film of the day was the excellent Granite and Chalk which focused on a story about two spies whose real identities are unknown to this day. The film shed light on a story that is not very well known but which had great significance at the time. I also really enjoyed the use of animation here. Overall I think this was a very successful and informative event that commemorated, celebrated and ruminated the 1916 Rising.
The Revenant review by Daniel
My name is Daniel and I’m 16 years old . I’m currently in Transition Year in Skerries Community College. I’m captain for my local u16s soccer club and I like to draw and go out with friends. I chose the IFI for my work experience because I am interested in film and media. I thoroughly enjoyed my week in the Education department, I got to try many different aspects of working in a film organisation and was able to see a few screenings in the fantastic cinemas. One of the movies I saw was The Revenant and here’s my review.
Cold, exhilarating, dark and captivating are just some of the words that may be used to describe filmmaker Alejandro G Iñárritu’s latest success, The Revenant. Many filmgoers thoroughly enjoyed the emotion and energy of his last film, the award-winning Birdman, but this latest film takes a different approach. In retelling the gruesome tale of legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass , the directorutilises a lot of realistic qualities, not only in the infamous bear sequence but also in every gut-wrenching and blood-stained action scene to make them as believable as possible. With Leonardo Di Caprio’s intense physical performance, for which he has been nominated for a long overdue Oscar, and the help of surreal costumes, set design, and CGI effects, the film makes the viewer feel as if they are living through Hugh Glasses traumatic encounters.
Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki brilliantly utilises the magnificent Argentinian mountain range and the snowy depths of the Canadian Forest to recreate the beautiful yet harsh landscapethrough which Glass travelled. . The fur trapper is shown as constantly tortured by memories of his murdered Pawnee wife and the suffering of his son, Hawk, in the fire that destroyed their village. Alongside Di Caprio, Tom Hardy plays a villainous frontiersman, John Fitzgerald, who is only ever following where the next penny comes from. Throughout this epic film you see layers of malevolence being peeled away to reveal an even darker side to Fitzgerald, in which Tom Hardy has transformed from simplistic cowardly killer to cold-blooded villain. Glass finally gets his opportunity to seek revenge, but does he take that opportunity?
Watching this epic thriller I was not only stunned by the beautiful shots and scenery, I was enthralled by the combination of the story of Hugh Glass, the impeccable performances from Leonardo Di Caprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter, the surreal effects and the amazing soundtrack. Overall I would say The Revenant is a must see, although I would not recommend it for those who find blood and gore hard to watch.
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