Because I Was a Painter

Poster for Because I Was a Painter An unprecedented investigation into the artworks created secretly in Nazi concentration and death camps. It converses with the rare handful of living artists who survived the camps and with their curators: about the emotions the works stir, their marginalization, their signature or anonymity, their style, as well as the representation of horror and extermination. But more importantly, perhaps, the film takes a long look at the drawings, wash drawings and paintings held in collections in France, Germany, Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Switzerland. Director's statement "I hardly dare to say it, but for a painter, the beauty of it was incredible. It was absolutely vital to reproduce it, to represent and to show it, in order to preserve it for the future", wrote Zoran Music, a survivor of Dachau. The film moves between these fragments of clandestine images and the vestiges of the camps, offering a sensitive search of faces, bodies and landscapes to explore the very notion of artwork and confront the idea of beauty head-on. The stakes are disconcerting, but perhaps it may help us to truly imagine what the camps must have been like, and to feel the respect due an artist, no matter how small or fragile his gesture of drawing.

Original title:
Parce que j'étais peintre
104 minutes
Christophe Cognet

Shown at

  1. 18th CAJE Miami Jewish Film Festival - 2015
  2. 23rd Toronto Jewish Film Festival - 2015
  3. Boulder Jewish Film Festival - 2015
  4. Ekaterinburg Jewish Film Festival - 2017
  5. Moscow Jewish Film Festival - 2016
  6. Odessa Jewish Film Festival - 2017

1 Response

  1. jewishfilmfests says:

    French director Christophe Cognet’s documentary looks at artworks made in the Nazi concentration camps.

    Art made by people in the Nazi concentration camps is the nominal subject of the documentary feature Because I Was a Painter (Parce que j’etais peintre), from French director Christophe Cognet. But this Franco-German co-production touches on more wide-ranging topics, including the indomitability of the human spirit and how the often clandestine creation of works of art in the camps also gave birth to a remarkable paradox, as it made it possible for the interned artists to simultaneously escape their day-to-day misery and at the same time record that very wretchedness and despair for posterity. This March 5 release in France did solid numbers during its first week in limited release and should be of interest to small-screen buyers, though specialized festivals and venues also should take note.

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