Karski & The Lords of Humanity in Polish theatres
by Dorota Hartwich
- Kino Swiat has released Slawomir Grünberg’s documentary about the secret agent who was the first to investigate and denounce the Holocaust
"If the Allies do not intervene, the Jewish population will cease to exist in a year and a half" wrote Jan Karski in his famous report. Between 1940 and 1942, this secret agent, who bore direct witness to the Holocaust, denounced the Jewish genocide (the first person in the world to do so). Karski & The Lords of Humanity [+see also:
film profile] by Slawomir Grünberg, which landed in theatres last Friday, paints a portrait of this man who brought the most atrocious news in the history of the 20th century to the world.
Jan Karski (1914-2000) was a liaison officer between the Polish Resistance and the Polish government in exile. His mission was to gather information to confirm that Jews were being exterminated by the Germans. He entered the Warsaw ghetto undercover and subsequently discovered the truth about the camp in Izbica. In 1942, he submitted the findings from his investigation on the Holocaust to the Sikorski government and this document served as the basis for an official report to the Allies on the genocide.
A Polish filmmaker living and working in the United States and the writer of over 45 documentaries, Slawomir Grünberg took home an Emmy Award for School Prayer: A Community at War. Notably, he was also the director of photography for Legacy and Sister Rose’s Passion, which were nominated for Academy Awards for Best Documentary and Best Documentary Short respectively.
His film on Jan Karski, who is sometimes referred to as the "Polish James Bond", was made by mixing animation (rotoscoping) and archive material. The historic scenes he reconstructs using animation rather notably include Karski’s arrest by the Gestapo, his undercover entry into the Warsaw ghetto and the camp in Izbica, and his discussions with those who he referred to as “The Lords of Humanity”, in particular the British Minister for Foreign Affairs (Anthony Eden) and President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt. The story was written by Grünberg (who also drew the images) with Katka Reszke and E. Thomas Wood.
Produced by LogTV and Apple Film Production, Karski & The Lords of Humanity was co-produced by Narodowy Instytut Audiowizualny, TVP, Narodowe Centrum Kultury, and TvIndie Film. It was funded partially by crowdfunding via Kickstarter. The film has been distributed in Polish theatres by Kino Swiat.
(Translated from French)