A memorial concert reawakens the story of an artistic uprising in the Nazi concentration camp, Terezin, where a chorus of 150 inmates confronts the Nazis face-to-face - and sings to them what they dare not say.

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A memorial concert reawakens the story of an artistic uprising in the Nazi concentration camp, Terezin, where a chorus of 150 inmates confronts the Nazis face-to-face - and sings to them what they dare not say.

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3 August 2012 (USA)  »

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This is what true documentary filmmaking should always be like.
6 August 2012 | by (america) – See all my reviews

I saw 'Defiant Requiem' at the opening night of the DocuWeeks film festival at the IFC in New York City. When I read there was a Holocaust theme to this one, and that this film was on opening night, I knew there had to be something new & unique and special about this film – and is there ever! Having seen many Holocaust docs over the years (like so many of us), along comes this INCREDIBLE story that I had never heard about before, and it is told quite beautifully here.

"Defiant Requiem" is an incredible story of the Nazi concentration camp at Terezin, wherein many talented Czech artists were imprisoned – and it specifically tells the story of one Czech composer, Raphael Schächter, who's idea it was to lead a performance of Verdi's "Requiem" inside the camp. And it tells the parallel story of music conductor Murry Sidlin who decades later went back to Terezin specifically to perform "Requiem" again, quite beautifully, this time with survivors from the camp. I don't really have the words – let me just say this story was completely new to me and had a profound impact on me, particularly the incredible interviews with the survivors.

When the film was over, the whole crowd stayed still and silent all the way through the final credit, before breaking out in applause. It was such a profound experience to be educated on something completely new relating to the Holocaust, and for the subject matter to be told with such depth and compassion, but also restraint. The story was sensational enough, the filmmakers wisely chose not to be manipulative (which would have been easy in this case) – they just told you and showed you this story with honesty, clarity and genuine beauty…. This is what true documentary filmmaking should always be like.

I have no idea how wide the distribution is going to be on this film – NY and LA are lined up so far, maybe other cities? Maybe TV? I have no idea, but if you come across this film SEE IT, you won't regret it.


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