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Greenwich Entertainment Acquires Holocaust Film ‘Love It Was Not’ About Remarkable Auschwitz Relationship

Andreas Wiseman
·2-min read

EXCLUSIVE: Greenwich Entertainment has acquired North American distribution rights to well-received Holocaust documentary Love It Was Not, which will play at Hot Docs this month.

Israeli filmmaker Maya Sarfaty’s film charts the remarkable and harrowing true love story between a prisoner and a Nazi. Beautiful and full of life, Helena Citron is taken to Auschwitz as a teenager (one of the first 1000 transported to the concentration camp), and soon finds unlikely solace under the protection of Franz Wunsch, a barely older SS officer who falls in love with her and her magnetic singing voice. Risking execution if caught, they went on with their forbidden romantic relationship for two and a half years until the war ended and the camp was liberated.

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Thirty years later, a letter arrives from Wunsch’s wife asking Helena to “return the favor” — testify on Wunsch’s behalf at his war crimes trial. Faced with an impossible decision, Helena must choose. Will she help the man who brutalized so many lives, but saved hers?

Filmmaker Sarfaty painstakingly worked through the archives of Israel’s Yad Vashem and Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, looking for recordings of women indexed as workers in the “Kanada” facility at Auschwitz and listening for mentions of Helena and Franz in their personal survival stories.

The documentary premiered at Docaviv where it won the festival’s top prize, the Frank Lowy Award for the Best Israeli Film, and had its international debut at IDFA. It is based on Sarfaty’s 2016 Student Academy Award-winning short The Most Beautiful Woman. Greenwich will release the film this fall.

Reconstructions of key scenes take the form of multi-layered photomontages using only historical photos and archival images from the time. These are merged into new compositions shot in a black studio.

Pic was produced by Nir Sa’ar and Kurt Langbein with Guy Lavie, Koby Gal-Raday and Danna Stern as executive producers. Greenwich’s Ed Arentz negotiated the deal with Cinephil’s Philippa Kowarsky on behalf of the filmmakers.

“Making this film was a long and challenging journey”, said director Maya Sarfaty. “It began with a single image of an inmate in Auschwitz, went through a small apartment in Williamsburg NY, continued to the court room in Vienna, and rolled into the private archives of an SS officer in Switzerland. Knowing that the film is now coming to America makes me both proud and excited. I have no doubt audiences across the states will appreciate the larger-than-life love story of Helena, the Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz and her captor the SS officer Franz Wunsch.”

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