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

  • Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Jason Statham welcome a baby boy

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- It's a boy for model-actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and her fiance, Jason Statham. Huntington-Whiteley wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday that son Jack Oscar Statham was born on Saturday weighing 8.8 pounds. Source
  • Billy Talent frontman joining Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew in his debut play

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    TORONTO - Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew is set to debut his first play in Toronto this fall, co-starring alongside a fellow Canadian rock singer. Billy Talent frontman Ben Kowalewicz will join Drew in “A&R Angels,” in which they’ll play two angels who’ve spent years rescuing people from the brink of death with their music. Source
  • Powerful young female characters are the new action heroes

    Entertainment CBC News
    From the murderous Laura in Logan to the mysterious Eleven in Stranger Things to the audacious determination of Mija in Okja, opening Wednesday, powerful young girls are starring in mainstream action fare like never before. Though Nancy Drew was solving mysteries in the 1930s and Buffy slayed vampires all through high school in the late 1990s, young girls are rarely shown as heroes in programs aimed at general audiences, said Mary Celeste Kearney, director of gender studies and a professor of…
  • Jason Statham, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley welcome baby boy

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Jason Statham and model/actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley have become first-time parents to a baby boy. The Mad Max: Fury Road beauty announced the birth of Jack Oscar Statham on her Instagram page on Wednesday, revealing their son was born over the weekend. Source
  • The X-Files all-male writing staff draws ire from gender parity critics

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Apparently, the iconic X-Files tagline ‘trust no one’ includes how creator Chris Carter feels about the show’s writers. But some in the media are implying that his staffing choices don’t belong on this planet. According to IndeWire, the seven writers currently on board to script the upcoming eleventh season of the 90s sci-fi classic all have one thing in common: they’re men. Source
  • Peter Mansbridge on some of his most memorable stories at CBC

    Entertainment CBC News
    Peter Mansbridge is in the homestretch of a remarkable career as the face of CBC News. Mansbridge will officially sign off from his role as chief correspondent of The National on Saturday, presiding over Canada Day coverage beginning at 10 a.m. Source
  • Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew to debut his first play in November

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew is set to debut his first play in Toronto this fall, co-starring alongside a fellow Canadian rock singer. Billy Talent frontman Ben Kowalewicz will join Drew in "A&R Angels," in which they'll play two angels who've spent years rescuing people from the brink of death with their music. Source
  • Robert Durst's pals resist testifying at California hearing

    Entertainment CTV News
    MINEOLA, N.Y. -- Two of Robert Durst's longtime friends are fighting in a New York court to avoid being sent to testify at a pretrial hearing in the millionaire's murder case in California next month. Source
  • Animatronic Trump will speak at Disney World show

    Entertainment CTV News
    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Disney has confirmed that an animatronic version of President Donald Trump will have a speaking role at its Hall of Presidents attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida. The company is pushing back against reports that Trump's figure wouldn't have a speaking part in the show, which features figures of all U.S. Source
  • Lily Collins brings scrappy energy to Netflix's moving 'Okja'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    It doesn't seem entirely fair how Lily Collins has cornered the market on brains, beauty and talent. Turns out she also has more energy than most mere mortals. The Golden Globe nominated actress/model/writer/singer published a memoir earlier this year and has both television (The Last Tycoon) and two new Netflix projects on the go. Source