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September 1, 2021 1:49 pm
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Last Remaining Footage of Polish Jewish Community Before Holocaust Premieres as Movie at Venice Film Festival

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Townspeople of the predominantly Jewish village of Nasielsk, Poland in 1938 as seen in Bianca Stigter’s “Three Minutes – A Lengthening.” Photo: Courtesy of Family Affair Films, US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

A film set to make its world premiere at the 78th Venice Film Festival this week revolves around three minutes of a home video that is believed to be the only footage left of a predominately Jewish village in Poland before the Holocaust.

The footage, mostly in color and shot by David Kurtz in 1938 in the town in Nasielsk, Poland, was edited to create the film “Three Minutes – A Lengthening,” which is 69 minutes long and narrated by British actress Helena Bonham Carter, whose maternal grandfather was Jewish. The film also includes interviews with Kurtz’s grandson, Glenn Kurtz, and Maurice Chandler, who appears in the film as a boy and shares his memories. It will premiere on Thursday followed by a Q&A on Saturday with the film’s director and screenplay writer Bianca Stigter, according to a Venice Film Festival program.

Stigter was the associate producer on “12 Years a Slave” and “Widows,” both of which were directed by her husband, Steve McQueen. “Three Minutes – A Lengthening” is her feature directorial debut and McQueen serves as the project’s executive producer.

David Kurtz emigrated from Poland to the United States as a child but in 1938 returned to Europe for a trip and stopped in Nasielsk, his birthplace. He took a 16mm camera with him — which at the time was rarely seen in the small town — and documented his visit.

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“Eighty years later his ordinary pictures, most of them in color, have become something extraordinary,” Stigter said. “They are the only moving images that remain of Nasielsk prior to the Second World War. Almost all the people we see were murdered in the Holocaust.”

The filmmaker described “Three Minutes – A Lengthening” as “an experiment that turns scarcity into a quality.” She explained, “Living in a time marked by an abundance of images that are never viewed twice, we do the opposite here: circle the same moments again and again, convinced that they will give us a different meaning each time. The film starts and ends with the same unedited found footage, but the second time you will look at it quite differently.”

“Three Minutes – A Lengthening,” is one of the projects premiering at the Venice Film Festival that is still available for purchase by international buyers and does not yet have a distribution deal, Variety reported. The Venice Film Festival runs from Sept. 1-11.

See the trailer for “Three Minutes – A Lengthening” below.

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