Romanian drama about Holocaust denial takes top prize at Karlovy Vary

A film about Romanian Holocaust denial won the top prize at the Karlovy Vary International film festival in the Czech Republic.

“I Do Not Care if We Go Down in History as Barbarians,” a drama directed by Romanian Radu Jude, focuses on a young theatre director in present-day Romania.

The character, Mariana, seeks to stage a show about the real-life massacre of hundreds of thousands of Jews by Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu, in collaboration with Adolf Hitler. But while staging the show in the present day, Mariana encounters government censorship, all sorts of attempts to whitewash history and lingering antisemitism.

The title, “I Do Not Care if We Go Down in History as Barbarians,” is taken from a 1941 speech by Antonescu justifying the mass murder of Jews.

“The reason one looks in history, I think what it is for me, is always to find a connection with something from the present,” Jude said during a red-carpet interview at the festival.

“This film deals with the memory or lack of memory, or the possibilities of representation of the ethnic cleansing done by the Romanian Army…. You look at today’s Europe, and you see racism and antisemitism and negationism and a lot of those things. So a story from that time is relevant.”

The film festival, held in the Czech Republic, also gave the prize for best actor to Moshe Folkenflik for his role in the Israeli film Geula. That film features a former rock and roll star turned Orthodox Jew who discovers his young daughter, Geula, is gravely ill.

The movie, directed and written by Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yacov, had its world premiere at the festival last week. In addition to the best actor prize, Geula, stylized as Redemption in English, received the ecumenical prize for its depiction of religious themes. Folkenflik did not pick up his prize in person, since he is Shabbat observant.

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