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From Newsreel to Posttramatic films - Classic Documentary Filmas about Auschwitz-Birkenau

Tomasz Lysak
Tomasz Lysak
Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - 7:00pm
Thomson Hall 101

Dr. Tomasz Łysak, Assistant professor at the University of Warsaw, focuses his research on representations of the Holocaust in relation to trauma studies and psychoanalysis. He has held fellowships at the University of Washington in Seattle, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Chicago and has been awarded a research grant from the National Science Centre entitled “From Newsreel to Post-Traumatic Film: Documentary and Artistic Films on the Holocaust” (2013-2015). Dr. Łysak published several articles in Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Kwartalnik Filmowy, Teksty Drugie, among others; he edited Antologia studiów nad traumą (Trauma studies anthology, Kraków 2015) and is the author of Od kroniki do filmu posttraumatycznego – filmy dokumentalne o Zagładzie (Warszawa 2016).

Join former Polish Fulbright Scholar Tomasz Łysak as he discusses his new book Od kroniki do filmu posttraumatycznego – filmy dokumentalne o Zagładzie. The book explores a comparative perspective on Holocaust cinema, placing Polish productions in the context of the larger international phenomenon of this genre. Documentary materials shot during the war by Nazi cameramen came to define the audiovisual memory of Polish Jews in the ghettoes and Auschwitz-Birkenau liberation footage became a powerful symbol of the Holocaust. Polish documentary filmmakers had relied on these materials in order to present various aspects of the genocide, Nazi atrocities, and the fate of Jews under the occupation. Subsequently, quoting of archival footage lost its appeal and other modes of documentary film-making prevail: cinematic memory work (in response to Alain Resnais’s Night and Fog), audiovisual testimony, documentaries of return etc. The book traces these developments and adopts a comparative perspective showing Polish productions in the context of a larger international phenomenon of Holocaust cinema. The argument combines insights from psychoanalytical trauma theory, generic criticism, memory studies, and political aesthetics.

Co-sponsored by the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies.