Documentary About French Nazi Hunters Produced by Oscar-Nominated Filmmakers Set for 2021 Release
A new documentary titled “Klarsfeld” will focus on French Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, who have dedicated more than half a century to hunting and exposing Nazi war criminals around the world.
The film intertwines the couple’s past efforts with their present-day activism, while they are now in their 80s, against neo-Nazis and far-right extremists, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The documentary also addresses their loving relationship — from hunting partners, to activists, husband and wife and then parents — and will feature personal testimonies from presidents, Holocaust survivors, fellow activists, and friends and family members.
“Klarsfeld” is currently in post-production and is expected to be released at the end of 2021.
The project’s executive producer is Alexander Nanau, the Romanian director of “Collective,” which is nominated in the upcoming Oscars for best documentary and best international feature. “Klarsfeld” was acquired by Fremantle for international distribution, and is being directed by Mike Lerner and Martin Herring for Roast Beef Productions.
Nanau spoke The Hollywood Reporter about why he joined the project, saying: “Basically, I was taken by the actuality of what this couple did. Because it feels that this is exactly the kind of attitude and behavior one feels we need now in a world of so much populism and hidden agendas. And I thought that they were really among the first major whistleblowers of the post-war European society.”
Lerner, who has been filming the couple for several years, said, “It has been a huge privilege to have gained the trust and cooperation of Beate and Serge to document their extraordinary lives both past and present. For more than half a century, the Klarsfelds have been a huge inspiration and role models for those activists who seek justice and oppose fascism and yet their story has been under appreciated by the wider world. Until now. We are delighted to be partnering with Fremantle to bring these historic achievements to the screen.”
The actions of the Klarsfelds resulted in the prosecution of many high-ranking Nazi officials and French collaborators, including Klaus Barbie — the notorious Nazi and Gestapo chief in France who became known as the “Butcher of Lyon.” He is estimated to have been directly responsible for the deaths of up to 14,000 people. With help from the Klarsfelds, he was sentenced in 1987 to life imprisonment for war crimes.
In 2019, the Klarsfelds received the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Elie Wiesel Award for their “extraordinary contributions to Holocaust memory, education, and justice.”
Th museum said that Beate also confronted former Nazis serving in the West German government, and that Serge conducted pioneering research on child deportees and the Holocaust in France and Romania, as well as documenting the stories of thousands of French Jews who were sent to gas chambers. The couple have also campaigned against antisemitism in Europe and the Middle East.