The Lady In Number 6 Wins 2014 Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject

The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved Her Life

Alice Herz-Sommer, who died in London last Sunday at the age of 110, was widely described as the oldest known Holocaust survivor. She had been a distinguished pianist in Europe before the war. However, it was only after the Nazi occupation of her homeland, Czechoslovakia, in 1939 that she began a deep study of Chopin’s Études, some of the most technically demanding and emotionally impassioned works in the piano repertory.

For Mrs. Herz-Sommer, the Études offered a consuming distraction at a time of constant peril. But they ultimately gave her far more than that, far more, even, than spiritual sustenance. “They are very difficult,” Mrs. Herz-Sommer said. “I thought if I learned to play them, they would save my life.” And so they did.

In recent years, because of her great age; her indomitability; her continued, ardent involvement with music and her recollections of her youthful friendships with titans like Franz Kafka and Gustav Mahler; Mrs. Herz-Sommer became a beacon for writers, filmmakers and members of the public eager to learn her story. Mrs. Herz-Sommer was also profiled in documentary films, one of which, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, a documentary portrait directed by Malcolm Clarke, won the 2014 Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject.

The Lady in Number 6 has been described as one of the most inspirational stories ever told. In the film, Alice Herz-Sommer, the world’s oldest pianist and oldest holocaust survivor, shares her views on how to live a long happy life. She discusses the vital importance of music, laughter and having an optimistic outlook on life. This powerfully inspirational film tells her amazing story of survival and how she managed to use her time in a Nazi concentration camp to empower herself and others with music.

Read more about the life of Alice Herz-Sommer in the New York Times here.

The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved Her Life

The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved Her Life

The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved Her Life

Alice Herz-Sommer, who died in London last Sunday at the age of 110, was widely described as the oldest known Holocaust survivor. She had been a distinguished pianist in Europe before the war. However, it was only after the Nazi occupation of her homeland, Czechoslovakia, in 1939 that she began a deep study of Chopin’s Études, some of the most technically demanding and emotionally impassioned works in the piano repertory.

For Mrs. Herz-Sommer, the Études offered a consuming distraction at a time of constant peril. But they ultimately gave her far more than that, far more, even, than spiritual sustenance. “They are very difficult,” Mrs. Herz-Sommer said. “I thought if I learned to play them, they would save my life.” And so they did.

In recent years, because of her great age; her indomitability; her continued, ardent involvement with music and her recollections of her youthful friendships with titans like Franz Kafka and Gustav Mahler; Mrs. Herz-Sommer became a beacon for writers, filmmakers and members of the public eager to learn her story. Mrs. Herz-Sommer was also profiled in documentary films, one of which, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, a documentary portrait directed by Malcolm Clarke, is a 2014 Oscar Nominee for Best Documentary Short Subject. The awards ceremony takes place on Sunday.

The Lady in Number 6 has been described as one of the most inspirational stories ever told. In the film, Alice Herz-Sommer, the world’s oldest pianist and oldest holocaust survivor, shares her views on how to live a long happy life. She discusses the vital importance of music, laughter and having an optimistic outlook on life. This powerfully inspirational film tells her amazing story of survival and how she managed to use her time in a Nazi concentration camp to empower herself and others with music.

Read more about the life of Alice Herz-Sommer in the New York Times here.

The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved Her Life

Paths of Hate: The Destructive Fury of War

Paths of Hate: The Destructive Fury of War

Paths of Hate is an animated ten-minute short film directed by Damian Nenow at Platige Image, which is in the running for a 2012 Oscar for animated short films. The film was named on a list of 10 films that was released last week by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; three to five nominees for the Oscar will be chosen from this list.

Paths of Hate contains stunning visuals that recreate a WWII-era aerial dogfight and presents a dynamic tale about the hatred that seems to be an indispensable element of human nature. Damien Nenow, a recent graduate of Poland’s Lodz Film School, has created a film of great visual power, which brilliantly shows the demons that slumber deep within the human soul and have the power to push people into the abyss of blind hate, fury and rage. The finale of the film introduces a surreal turn of events, which stands as the director’s bitter comment on the bloody destructive fury of war.

Paths of Hate: The Destructive Fury of War

Please Share This:

Share

Understanding The Lives and Times of Great Photographers

Richard Sadler, Weegee in Coventry, 1963

William Henry Fox Talbot, The Ladder, April 1844

Lady Clementina Hawarden, Isabella Grace and Clementine Maude Hawarden, c.1863

George Davison, Portrait of Mr. Louisa Davison, March 1906

Unknown, Lewis Hine Photographing Children in a Slum, c. 1910

Lewis Hine, Tenement Playground, New York City (1900-1937)

Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dessau, Germany, 1945

Understanding The Lives and Times of Great Photographers

The Lives of Great Photographers is an inspiring exhibition at the National Media Museum in Bradford (UK), which draws on the Museum’s renowned collection to showcase the pioneers behind the camera, exploring the extraordinary stories surrounding some of photography’s most important innovators and artists. It focuses on the work of early photographers who took the initiative to establish photography as an industry during the 19th and 20th centuries. Featuring Henri Cartier-Bresson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Robert Capa, William Henry Fox Talbot, Weegee, Tony Ray-Jones, Fay Godwin and Eadweard Muybridge, the exhibition displays iconic images and artefacts from these and other great names. As technology evolved, the breadth and range of photography increased, and the methods by which it could provide artistic expression became more diverse. The pioneering photographers produced some of the first celebrity photographs in existence, created war/art photography during World War I and produced some of the earliest fashion and advertising photography.

Photography also proved an ideal medium for documenting world events: some of the earliest documentary photographers, including Lewis Hine and Dorothea Lange, were driven by their social consciences to record the Great Depression in America. Photojournalism, the cousin of documentary photography, is represented in the exhibition by artists such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, founding members of the world’s first photographic agency, Magnum. Both men served in World War II and produced images that helped define an era.

However, while this exhibition considers the lives of photographers as much as their work, to what extent do their photographs reflect the lives, thoughts, feelings or beliefs of the person behind the camera? Although understanding the life and times of a photographer can inform and help to understand their work, it is important not to read too much into a photograph without considering when, and under what situation it was taken. Caution has to be exerted because we can never really know what the photographer was thinking, or feeling when they took the photograph. The danger is that we read something into the image that perhaps doesn’t really exist, except in our own minds.

Brian Liddy has provided an excellent, detailed discussion of some limitations involved in attempts to interpret the lives of great photographers, and uses photographs from this exhibition as examples.

The Lives of Great Photographers

Lives of the Great Photographers: Photographing Conflict

Photo-Gallery: Understanding The Lives and Times of Great Photographers

(Please Click Image to View Photo-Gallery)

Please Share This:

Share

The Hiroshima Photographs: Ground Zero 1945

The Nuclear Weapon “Little Boy” Exploding on Hiroshima, August 6, 1945

Rooftop View of Atomic Destruction, Hiroshima, October 31, 1945

The Landscape of Hiroshima, Looking Northeast, October 27, 1945

Ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall , October 24, 1945

Distorted Steel-Frame Structure of Odamasa Store, Hiroshima, November 20, 1945

Ruins of Chugoku Coal Distribution Company or Hiroshima Gas Company, November 8, 1945

The Hiroshima Photographs: Ground Zero 1945

Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945 is a new exhibition of once-classified images of atomic destruction at Hiroshima presently on display at New York City’s International Center of Photography. The collection of photographs both repels and fascinates the viewer, with its powerfully ugly portraits of an unpeopled and obliterated city. The photographs were originally part of a governmental analysis of the atomic bomb’s effect on concrete, wood and steel, and this catalog of devastation was meant to be seen only by postwar architects and engineers tasked with erecting the “bombproof” cities of the future.

The Hiroshima photos have a strange and contorted history. In the mid-1990s, the owner of a diner in Watertown, Massachusetts, was walking his dog when he spotted a beat-up suitcase sitting in a pile of trash. It turned out that the photographs inside had once belonged to Robert L. Corsbie, an engineer and expert on the effects of the bomb. Just how those photos wound up in his possession remains unclear. Corsbie belonged to a cadre of ordnance experts, engineers, photographers and draftsmen who were sent by President Truman to analyze the nuclear devastation.

The Hiroshima photographs are fundamentally different from the more familiar World War II pictures of European cities, such as Cologne, where the stones of the cathedral rise from the debris, and blown-out buildings loom like hollow-eyed zombies. Those ruins have a perverse but palpable grandeur, a gothic desolation that is missing from the scenes of Japan’s ravaged emptiness. In hauntingly stark contrast to the images of European destruction, the Hiroshima photographs are eerily mute. There are no people, only twisted metal, blistered walls and miles of rubble. Except for a few skeletal structures poking out of flattened wreckage, the city simply vanished. Hiroshima didn’t look like a bombed city; it looked instead as though a monstrous steamroller had passed over it and just squashed it out of existence. The Japanese city centers, constructed mostly of wood, simply went up in smoke when bombed.

Wary of the conquered people’s anger and grief, the US government imposed strict censorship in September 1945, confiscating pictures and ordering that no image be printed which might, directly or by inference, disturb public tranquility. It was not until 1952 that Life Magazine published a handful of photographs taken in the first days after the attack. Even now, such images are rarely displayed. That is why this cache of photographs is so important. Once part of a classified archive, then buried in a basement, thrown away and resurrected, it counteracts the universal tendency to aestheticise violence. There is nothing awe-inspiring here, or even poignant, just plain devastating facts.

Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945

Grave of the Fireflies: A Japanese Anime Masterpiece

Grave of the Fireflies is an acclaimed Japanese anime masterpiece, a dramatic animated film written and directed by Isao Takahata. The film tells the story of two children from Japan’s port city of Kobe, who have been made homeless by the WWII American firebombing of the city. The film is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Nosaka Akiyuki, who was a boy at the time of the firebombs, whose sister died of hunger and whose life has been shadowed by guilt. Roger Ebert considers Grave of the Fireflies to be one of the most powerful anti-war movies ever made, describing the film as “the most profoundly human animated film I’ve ever seen.”

Grave of the Fireflies: A Japanese Anime Masterpiece

Photo-Gallery: Hiroshima, Ground Zero 1945

(Please Click Image to View Photo-Gallery)

Please Share This:

Share

Marwencol: A Tiny Fantasy World, A Place to Heal

After crash landing during WWII, Captain Hogancamp discovers Marwencol.

Hogie marries Anna in front of the SS soldiers who captured him.

Jacqueline, Svetlana, and Anna head toward the Church to save Hogie from the Nazis.

The Nazis rumble down Main Street in Marwencol in a captured American tank.

A medic rescues a wounded major after an ambush by the SS.

Two Nazis are prepped for a hanging in Marwencol Square after causing so much suffering

Marwencol: A Tiny Fantasy World, A Place to Heal

I came flying over in my P40 Warhawk, on fire, and saw a flat field below and I crash-landed in it. And when I walked into town, there was nobody there.” So begins Mark Hogancamp’s story of Marwencol, the small-scale fictional Belgian town and oasis of peace in the midst of the Second World War that he built in his yard.

On April 8, 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked outside a bar in Kingston, New York, by five men who beat him literally to death. Revived by paramedics, Mark had suffered brain damage and severe physical. After spending nine days in a coma and 40 days in the hospital, Mark was discharged with his memory wiped nearly clean of the details of his life, his early marriage, girlfriends, family, Navy service, thundering alcoholism, homelessness and jail time. He had to relearn how to eat, walk and think at the age of 38.

Unable to afford therapy, Mark decided to create his own. In the yard beside his trailer home near Kingston, he built Marwencol, a 1/6th scale World War II-era town that he populated with dolls representing his friends, family, and even his attackers. Made from scraps of plywood and peopled with a tribe of Barbies and World War II action figures, Marwencol was named after himself and Wendy and Colleen, two women on whom he had crushes. Narratives surrounding a downed American fighter pilot rescued by Marwencol’s all-female population began to unfold against a backdrop that was nominally a World War II setting, in Belgium. The themes, however, were Mr. Hogancamp’s own: the brutality of men, the safe haven of a town of women, the twin demons of rage and fear. Mr. Hogancamp captured his stories with thousands of photographs, shooting on an old Pentax with a broken light meter. The noirish images, complete with blood flecks in the snow, are riveting and emotional.

Mark started documenting his miniature dramas with his camera. Through Mark’s lens, these were no longer dolls. They became living, breathing characters in an epic WWII story full of violence, jealousy, longing, and revenge. And he (or rather his alter ego, Captain Hogancamp) was the hero.

Hogancamp’s work has been shown at Esopus Space in New York and is the subject of a documentary by Jeff Malmberg, which explores the way that Hogancamp’s fantasy world has changed and affected him.

You can read more about Mark Hogancamp and his tiny world of Marwencol in the New York Times here.

Marwencol: The Official Theatrical Trailer

Slide Show: Marwencol/A Tiny Fantasy World, A Place to Heal

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

Please Share This:

Share

Peace on Earth: A Post-Apocalyptic World

Peace on Earth: A Post-Apocalyptic World

Peace on Earth is the widely acclaimed classic Christmastime animated short film, which was the masterwork creation of Hugh Harman released during the holiday season of 1939.  Peace on Earth was nominated for the 1939 Academy Award for Short Subjects (Cartoons) and was reported to have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as well.

The animated short was given its widespread public showings immediately after the outbreak of World War II in Europe, and it was viewed as a serious work that dealt with the idea of what a post-apocalyptic world would be like.  In the film, two young squirrels ask their grandfather on Christmas Eve who the “men” are in the lyric Peace on Earth, good will to men.  The grandfather squirrel then tells them a rotoscoped history of the human race, focusing on the never-ending wars men waged.  Ultimately the wars did end, but with the deaths of the last men on Earth, two soldiers shooting each other.   Afterward, the surviving animals were inspired to rebuild a society that was dedicated to peace and nonviolence.

Peace on Earth: A Post-Apocalyptic World

Please Share This:

Share

%d bloggers like this: