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Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust

An audience favorite at more than 50 film festivals around the world, and the centerpiece of dozens of panels and conferences at theaters, universities, and museums from Warsaw to Washington, DC, IMAGINARY WITNESS tells a provocative and mostly unknown story of the 60-year relationship between Hollywood and the atrocities of Nazi Germany. With scenes from over forty films, rare newsreels, and interviews with leading scholars, filmmakers, and witnesses to the events portrayed, IMAGINARY WITNESS takes the viewer on a 60-year journey from the American ambivalence and denial during the heyday of Nazism, through the silence of the post-war years, and into the end of the 20th century. The film explores not only the question of how an industry that sells fantasy has dealt with one of the most horrifying episodes in modern world history, but also how the movies themselves reflect America’s ever-evolving relationship to the events of that era. At the core of the film is an ethical and moral debate about portrayal. Is it even possible to imagine on screen the unimaginable? Should the movie industry even undertake such an endeavor? Ultimately, the film asks hard questions: about the uneasy relationship between American popular culture and the Holocaust, about the responsibility of filmmakers in their portrayal of history, and about the power of film to affect the way we look at ourselves.


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Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Keene State College

229 Main Street

Keene, NH 03435-3201
☎ 603-358-2490