Hot Docs ’15: HBO takes U.S. TV rights to “Lanzmann”

The U.S. premium cable network will air Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah (pictured), which recounts the making of the French filmmaker's landmark 1985 Holocaust documentary Shoah, in 2016.
April 30, 2015

HBO Documentary Films has acquired the U.S. TV rights to a documentary about Shoah director Claude Lanzmann.

Helmed by former realscreen associate editor Adam Benzine, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah (pictured) world premiered at this year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and will air on the U.S. cable network in 2016.

Additionally, European broadcasters ZDF and ARTE have signed on as coproducers and secured German and French broadcast rights, respectively. Denmark’s DR TV has picked up the Danish TV rights.

The 40-minute film, which HBO has re-titled for the U.S. broadcast, looks at the making of Lanzmann’s nine-and-a-half hour documentary Shoah, which is widely considered one of the most important examinations of the Holocaust. The 89-year-old spent a decade working on the landmark film, which was released 30 years ago.

In addition to exclusive interviews with Lanzmann about his process, the doc features never-before-seen material shot by the French filmmaker and his team in the 1970s. The filmmakers are working with the footage owners—the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Israel’s Yad Vashem—to restore and digitize it.

“Claude Lanzmann is a filmmaking icon and a Jewish hero,” Benzine said in a statement. “His 12-year journey to make what is now considered to be the definitive Holocaust opus was really an against-all-odds story of defiant resilience in the face of tremendous adversity. I am deeply honored that he agreed to participate.”

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah is written, produced and directed by Benzine, coproduced by Kimberley Warner, and executive produced by BBC ‘Storyville’ editor Nick Fraser (Man on Wire). Benzine and Warner brokered the deals directly. Philippa Kowarsky of Tel Aviv-based Cinephil is handling future sales.

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah will next screen at Hot Docs tomorrow (May 1) at 6:30 p.m. at Innis Town Hall. International festival screenings are to follow.

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