Toronto-based journalist heads to Oscars for short documentary

TORONTO -- Oscar-nominated director Adam Benzine bristles at being referred to as a filmmaker.

The Toronto-based journalist notes he only has one film under his belt, albeit one that will compete at this Sunday's Academy Awards.

See Full Article

"For now I consider myself a journalist who made a film. But it's going pretty well so far," admits the 33-year-old Benzine, born and raised in London.

"I'm a little reluctant to embrace the term filmmaker. I mean, I guess now that I'm an Academy Award nominee I have to. But I still think of myself as a journalist first and foremost."

Benzine's film, "Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah," examines the story behind Lanzmann's 1985 documentary "Shoah," a nine-and-a-half-hour portrait of the Holocaust as told by those who witnessed, survived or committed its atrocities.

The film took Lanzmann more than 12 years to make as he painstakingly tracked down interview subjects including a former Nazi who he surreptitiously recorded, resulting in a brutal beating that landed him in hospital for a month.

Overall, Lanzmann shot 225 hours of footage and spent five years editing. Benzine says the project left him with "a very deep wound."

"My sense is he still is recovering and may never recover," says Benzine, who came to Canada in 2011 and became a permanent resident in 2015.

"It takes a toll on him emotionally, financially, physically, mentally. It really pushes him to his limit. He could have died making the film. He contemplated suicide whilst making the film.

"He seemed to understand, or felt, there was only one correct way to make the film -- that it had to be this epic behemoth of a film. And he was getting a lot of exterior pressure from financiers who thought that, frankly, he was never going to deliver a film, that he had lost his way, that this was never going to be finished."

What resulted was a shattering account of the Holocaust, says Benzine.

"It's relentlessly upsetting. And the overpowering rhythm of details, details, details, details, sometimes really minute details -- how wide the corridors were, what colour the gas vans were, how many steps it was from the train to the platform -- paints an image in your mind that means that at the end you really have a very different understanding of the horror of what these people went through."

Benzine completed the documentary in April 2015, almost 30 years to the day "Shoah" premiered in Paris.

"Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah" is one of two films with Canadian ties in the running for the best short doc trophy. Benzine faces competition from "A Girl In the River: The Price of Forgiveness," directed by Pakistani-Canadian Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.

Benzine said he was looking forward to bringing Lanzmann to the Academy Awards as his guest.

"He is 90 years old, so it's quite a big deal for him to fly from Paris to L.A.," he said.

"But I'm really just very pleased that he'll have the opportunity to walk the red carpet alongside Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg and all the other great filmmakers and have this moment of appreciation."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Prosecutors hope these 19 women can help convict Bill Cosby

    Entertainment CTV News
    PHILADELPHIA -- Prosecutors this week asked the judge in Bill Cosby's spring retrial to let jurors hear from 19 other women who say the entertainer drugged and molested them. They want to show that an alleged assault in 2004 that led to Cosby's only criminal charges was part of a five-decade pattern of drugging and harming women. Source
  • 'Call Me By Your Name,' 'Lady Bird' land GLAAD nominations

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Five feature films including "The Shape of Water" and "Call Me By Your Name" have been nominated for GLAAD Media Awards, one year after it found only two films to honour for gay-inclusive story lines and characters. Source
  • Kim and Kanye choose Chicago for their new baby's name

    Entertainment CTV News
    It's Chicago -- where Kanye West was raised -- as the name of baby No. 3 with Kim Kardashian West. Mom made the announcement Friday on her app without explanation. Chicago was born Monday, weighing in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Source
  • Producers Guild unveils anti-sexual harassment guidelines

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The Producers Guild of America has ratified guidelines for combating sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, requesting that every film and TV production offer in-person harassment training and provide multiple ways for alleged victims to complain. Source
  • W5's intimate interview with Kiefer Sutherland about life, acting and music

    Entertainment CTV News
    There is a fake U.S. president in a fake Oval office, who understands the Canadian psyche. He goes by the name Tom Kirkman. Once a low level secretary, Kirkman was catapulted into the role of Commander-in-chief after a terrorist attack. Source
  • Montreal filmmaker at Sundance explores plight of tiny nation Kiribati

    Entertainment CTV News
    PARK CITY, Utah - Montreal's Matthieu Rytz hopes his first film, "Anote's Ark," will put the plight of the tiny Pacific Ocean island nation of Kiribati on the world's radar. The documentary premieres today at the Sundance Film Festival and focuses on a country that many do not know exists -- and might not for much longer. Source
  • Royal Shakespeare Company co-founder John Barton dies at 89

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON -- John Barton, co-founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, has died. He was 89. The company said on its website Thursday night that Barton had died earlier in the day. Barton co-founded the company in 1960 and spent the rest of his career with the group. Source
  • 'Jersey Shore' reality star expected to plead to tax charges

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEWARK, N.J. -- One of the former stars of the "Jersey Shore" reality TV show is due in federal court in Newark on Friday to plead guilty to cheating on his taxes. Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino and his brother, Marc, were charged in 2014 and again last year with multiple counts related to nearly $9 million in income from the show. Source
  • 'Jersey Shore' star Sorrentino pleads guilty to tax evasion

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEWARK, N.J. -- Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino, one of the stars of the "Jersey Shore" reality TV series that depicted 20-somethings partying and brawling by the seaside, pleaded guilty Friday to cheating on his taxes. Source
  • The Eagles settle lawsuit against Canadian-owned Hotel California

    Entertainment CBC News
    There can evidently be only one Hotel California. The Eagles have settled a lawsuit to stop a Mexico hotel from using the name Hotel California, arguably referencing the country-rock band's most famous song, after the hotel's owners withdrew their application to trademark the name in the United States. Source