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Documentary Film of “The Natural History of Destruction” Receives Funding

AUSTERLITZ_3

Film still from Sergei Loznitsa’s Austerlitz, 2016.

The Lithuanian Film Centre has announced its second round of funding pre-approvals for 2020, which includes funding for a documentary film by Sergei Loznitsa about W.G. Sebald’s On The Natural History of Destruction. There is no word on how Loznitsa might make a film about such an argumentative short book (based on a series of lectures he delivered in Zurich). In On The Natural History of Destruction, Sebald writes about the astonishing devastation wrought by Allied air raids on German cities in World War II and the seeming absence of this history in Germany’s cultural memory, especially in its literature.

In 2016, Loznitsa made a film called Austerlitz, inspired by Sebald’s book of the same name. In that film, he simply followed tourists as they spent a summer day at the Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz in Poland.

Writing about this film in Unsung Films, Angeliki Coconi asked of the people wandering around Auschwitz,

Why are they here? What have they come to find? A memorial site that receives thousands of tourists every year; “this is the place where people were exterminated; this is the place of suffering and grief,” Loznitsa says. Yet there is a Disneyland feeling about this place, that we can’t come to grasp. . . This feels like an amusement park of death and torture, where genocide is seen as the ultimate holiday experience.

You can watch Austerlitz (and several other of Loznitsa’s films) here online (for a small fee).

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Henry Engler #

    Terry – in case you haven’t seen, Daniel Mendelsohn has a new book, Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate, which includes “the German novelist W. G. Sebald, self-exiled to England, whose distinctively meandering narratives explore Odyssean themes of displacement, nostalgia, and separation from home. ”

    There’s a talk with Mendelsohn this evening via McNally Jackson books in New York:

    https://www.mcnallyjackson.com/event/three-rings-tale-exile-narrative-and-fate-daniel-mendelsohn-virtual-event-conversation

    Best,

    Henry

    September 8, 2020
    • Henry, Thanks for the message! I’ve been sent a review copy of this and have started writing about it already. I’m sorry I missed the talk, though. Best wishes!

      September 9, 2020

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