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

  • Mudbound's Dee Rees aims for 'changing people's idea about themselves'

    Entertainment CBC News
    Mudbound's Dee Rees aims for 'changing people's idea about themselves'2:24 Mudbound actors Rob Morgan, Garrett Hedlund and filmmaker Dee Rees on making the film festival favourite, adapted from a book by Hillary Jordan. Source
  • Guy Maddin 'ludicrously honoured' to have designed Winnipeg warming hut

    Entertainment CBC News
    A warming hut designed by Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin will be among those lining The Forks' Red River skating trail in Winnipeg this winter. The Winnipeg-born Maddin's piece holds as much mystery as its name: Temple of Lost Things. Source
  • Victoria's Secret gala hits snag in China as model pulls out

    Entertainment CTV News
    Top U.S. fashion model Gigi Hadid on Friday pulled out of the annual Victoria's Secret fashion show in Shanghai after an online video showing her apparently making a slant-eyes face sparked criticism in China. The announcement is the second apparent snag to hit the U.S. Source
  • EA backs off in-game purchases in 'Star Wars Battlefront II' controversy

    Entertainment CTV News
    The developers of a new Star Wars video game are backing off their controversial business strategy following a storm of criticism on the social media site Reddit. Fans of “Star Wars: Battlefront II” showed their dark side earlier this week when they discovered the game’s maker, Electronic Arts, was keeping popular characters Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader behind a paywall. Source
  • Rare comic showing Superman's 1st appearance to be auctioned

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A well-preserved issue of the 1938 comic book that first featured Superman is heading to the auction block. Profiles in History announced Friday that it will sell a copy of Action Comics .1 at a Dec. Source
  • Transparent actress alleges impropriety by star Jeffrey Tambor

    Entertainment CBC News
    An actress on Transparent says the show's star Jeffrey Tambor pressed his body against hers in a sexually aggressive manner and made inappropriate and unwanted sexual statements on the set of the show. Tambor denies the allegations saying in a statement that he has "never been a predator — ever. Source
  • Steven Avery attorney wants judge to reconsider denial of new trial

    Entertainment CTV News
    MANITOWOC, Wis. -- An attorney for a Wisconsin man convicted of homicide in a case featured on the Netflix series "Making A Murderer" is again asking a judge to reconsider a prior ruling rejecting a request for a new trial. Source
  • Actor Tom Sizemore denies groping allegations

    Entertainment CTV News
    SALT LAKE CITY -- Actor Tom Sizemore has addressed recent allegations that he groped an 11-year-old Utah girl during a 2003 photo shoot. Sizemore says he never inappropriately touched the child and calls the claims "highly disturbing. Source
  • What to expect if Prince Harry and Meghan Markle become engaged

    Entertainment CTV News
    As the Queen and Prince Philip prepare to celebrate 70 years of marriage with their platinum wedding anniversary on Nov. 20, royal watchers will be keeping a close eye on the weeks that follow for news of another royal occasion. Source
  • Movie reviews: 'Justice League' soars as a self-aware superhero smackdown

    Entertainment CTV News
    JUSTICE LEAGUE: 3 ½ STARS The old truism “less is more” has been thrown into the interdimensional void with the release of the new jam-packed superhero film “Justice League.” At almost two hours, and featuring the talents of not one but two high-powered directors—Joss Whedon took over for Zach Synder who stepped away in post-production due to personal issues—it features the top-line DC heroes like Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) plus a host of others…