7th Art Releasing have acquired and will release Claire Ferguson’s documentary Destination Unknown about the survivors of the Holocaust.
In the survivor’s own words, the film traces their journeys from the outbreak of war, through the misery of the ghettos, to the unimaginable horrors of the camps and how the survivors see light in the darkness as they make new lives from the ruins of the old. Creating a seamless mosaic of first-hand accounts, rare archival footage and photos from during and after the war, survivors share their memories and capture the pain that continues to haunt them, with the strength and resilience needed to live on.
Destination Unknown just had its critically praised theatrical run in the UK, where The Times gave it 4 Stars and The Guardian gave it 5 Stars hailing that it’s a powerful, valuable addition to Holocaust testimony. The film had its world premiere at the Sheffield Doc Fest.
Director Claire Ferguson said: “I wanted to make a film where the only voices are those of the survivors themselves. The challenge was to weave those individual voices together in a way that created a wider story, one that explored not only the pain of the Holocaust itself, but the building of new lives afterwards. My overriding question was ‘How can you make a life after such pain.”
Producer Llion Roberts said: “I was inspired to start this project fourteen years ago when I visited Auschwitz in 2001. I wanted to ensure that the remarkable stories of those who survived the Holocaust were preserved for posterity. In the years since, I have met and interviewed a remarkable range of incredible people whose lives are an inspiration to us all. From the four hundred hours of testimonies that I recorded, I wanted a film which captured the essence of their experience, made a contribution to the history of those times and perpetuated the memory of the Shoah.”
Udy Epstein from 7th Art Releasing said: “This comprehensive, yet intimate documentary takes us into the lives of those who lived during the Holocaust. The stories are articulated so powerfully that we gain a new – deeper insight into one of mankind’s darkest times. Fourteen years in the making, this documentary is important for those who think they knew all there is to know about the Holocaust and especially for those who never wanted to know. Deeper understanding of the Holocaust is extremely important today when neo-Nazis freely walk in America’s streets, hence Destination Unknown is a must see.”
Destination Unknown blends intimate testimony with immersive archive to bring the stories of twelve Holocaust survivors to the screen.
The film creates a seamless mosaic of first-hand accounts, rare archive from the time, and family Super 8 footage from after the war. The survivors share their memories, some for the first time, some for the last, bringing their experiences to a new generation.
They endured the death camps. They hid in remote farms. They fought as partisans in Polish forests. But when the war ended, those survivors’ struggles were only just beginning. With the only interview ever recorded of Mietek Pemper, the stenographer for the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp Commandant – Amon Göth and advisor to Oskar Schindler, who previously refused to talk on film, among other incredible personal stories, Destination Unknown paints a uniquely intimate portrait of survival, revealing the pain that has never faded, but cannot crush the human spirit.
Their stories do not end with liberation. We see how they had to survive the chaos that came afterwards, and their attempts to build new lives.
Yad Vashem and the USC Shoah Foundation have fully endorsed the film and the USC Shoah Foundation has come on as a partner.
Produced by Llion Roberts. Executive producers are Dr Stephen Smith and Christopher Hird.
7th Art Releasing will release the film theatrically on November 10th.