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May 31, 2021 2:09 pm

Director Roman Polanski Talks Holocaust Childhood in New Documentary Filmed in Polish Hometown of Krakow

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Film director Roman Polanski arrives at the Madeleine Church to attend a ceremony during a ‘popular tribute’ to late French singer and actor Johnny Hallyday in Paris, France, December 9, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Charles Platiau.

Oscar-winning Jewish filmmaker Roman Polanski delves into memories from his childhood during the Holocaust in a new documentary that premiered on Sunday, opening the Krakow Film Festival.

The documentary — titled “Polanski, Horowitz. Hometown” — chronicles the director of “The Pianist” as he walks around his Polish hometown of Krakow with his lifelong friend, fellow Holocaust survivor and photographer Ryszard Horowitz, whom he met inside the Jewish ghetto, AFP reported. Horowitz, who arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp when he was five years old, was among the Jews helped by German industrialist Oskar Schindler.

The documentary is about “memory, confrontations with the past, transience, trauma [and] fate,” said Mateusz Kudla, who directed and produced the film with Anna Kokoszka-Romer. “Through these two characters who were lucky, who survived, we also wanted to show the tragedy of all those residents of the Krakow Ghetto who never made it out,” Kudla told AFP.

In one scene, Polanski, who was six years old when World War II began, remembered seeing a German Nazi officer shoot an elderly woman in the back. The Polish-French director recalled, “Terrified, I ran through the gate behind me … I hid behind these stairs. That was my first encounter with the horror.”

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The documentary also showed footage of Polanski meeting for the first time the grandson of Stefania and Jan Buchala, a Polish Catholic couple who hid him from the Nazis. The late Buchala’s were honored last year by Yad Vashem with the title of  “Righteous Among the Nations” for helping to save Jews during World War II.

Kokoszka-Romer said the film does not mention the multiple sexual assault accusations against Polanski, who is sought for arrest by United States authorities.

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