Documentary | Germany | 2016 | Spanish, German, English
This documentary ultimately questioned for me how we behave at sites of mass atrocity, as well as the contemporary need to capture everything on one device or another. The camera is always stationary. It does not follow particular people but rather remains still at particular sites within the Auschwitz concentration camp. People move across the sites with their SLR cameras and mobile phones capturing the place and themselves left, right and centre. Perhaps these images are even more jarring because of the skin on display. Obviously this was filmed in high summer so people are roaming through in their shorts, t-shirts and singlet tops. Is such a site of mass atrocity being reduced to ‘the place to be’?
Sounds that we are given include overlapping spiels from tour guides. Amongst those we hear references to ‘the prisoners’ or ‘the bodies’, rhetoric that dehumanises the people who were subject to horrific forms of torture and mass murder. And I don’t recall hearing the word ‘genocide’. An example of the way stories are constructed to make them more digestable for audience. While I found myself cringing or gasping at certain displays of behaviour, this also raised greater questions of the tourist or visitor as voyeur and as a passive consumer of information and vistas. And perhaps how this differs from active engagement with such places or engaging in rituals of mourning for example. But at a greater distance, as we were sitting in a cinema as voyeurs watching this all transpire. It too interrogates how and what we consume as viewers. All in all an uncomfortable and hard-hitting multilevel interrogation.