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Jonathan Glazer On His Holocaust Pic ‘Zone Of Interest’ & The Dangers Of Far-Right Resurgence Today

Jonathan Glazer’s first directed title in 10 years, The Zone of Interest, shows an aspect of the Holocaust never seen, that from the POV of the Nazis who lived outside the Auschwitz camp, building dream lives of their own.

The protagonists living a bucolic life are the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, and his wife Hedwig.

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Asked by a reporter Saturday the day after the film had its work premiere at Cannes how he hopes Zone of Interest addresses the current problem of the resurgence of the far-right across Europe and the U.S. and Holocaust nihilism, Glazer answered, “I hope the film that we made, what it’s trying to do is to talk to the capacity within each of us for violence.”

“Wherever you’re from, it’s to try and show these people as people, not as monsters; that was an important thing to do,” said the filmmaker. Meaning, he wants to show that the Holocaust isn’t a mythical idea, that humans did this, and a warning that it could happen again.

“The great crime and tragedy is that human beings did this to other human beings,” Glazer said, “it’s very convenient for us to distance ourselves from them.”

Glazer explained that “at no particular moment, did I know what film I was going to make.”

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He spent the first two years after Under the Skin reading and it wasn’t until he visited Auschwitz that he saw the house and garden where the commandant lived and “it was jawdropping that it really got to me.” The archives were opened to him, and he combed through the testamonies of survivors who worked in the commandant’s house. “We began getting into these dribs and drabs … painting a picture of who they were with these testimonies,” the director said.

Glazer mentioned that when it comes to his process, “I never lock a film. I resist the idea of cutting yourself off from what is there.”

“There’s a constant drive of how far we can push this, how far we can express this. It’s always in flux.”

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