‘Fanny’s Journey’ looks back to dark past
The film will be shown on Holocaust Remembrance Day
April 21, 2017
The opening scene in "Fanny's Journey" seems like a normal goodbye between parent and child. There are hugs, tears and whispers of affectionate words.
But it isn't.
Set in World War II Europe, the film's beginning shows a Jewish mother parting from her daughter during one of history's most dark periods, a time when soldiers from Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany rounded up and exterminated about 6 million Jews.
Based on true events, the movie goes on to show French girl Fanny lead a group of children from danger in Italy to safety in Switzerland.
Rabbi David Levinsky, from Park City's Temple Har Shalom, feels it's important for people to watch films such as "Fanny's Journey," which is why he is glad to introduce the movie on Monday, April 24, before it screens at the Park City Library.
"Our hope as a Jewish community is that others can learn from our unfortunate historical experiences so that nothing like that ever happens again to any other population," Levinsky said.
The free showing — presented in partnership with the Park City Film Series, the United Jewish Federation of Utah and Temple Har Shalom — will start at 7 p.m.
Katharine Wang, executive director for the Park City Film Series, said the decision to screen "Fanny's Journey" on Monday wasn't a random choice.
For the past few years, the partners have shown movies that document the horrors of the Holocaust on Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, which falls on April 24 this year.
Last year's film was "Son of Saul," which tells the story of Saul Ausländer. A concentration camp prisoner, Ausländer had the job of cleaning the gas chambers after dragging dead bodies out of them.
"It was a very important film about the Holocaust, but was an incredibly challenging and dark film to watch," Wang said.
Like what "Son of Saul" did last year, Wang hopes "Fanny's Journey" will start conversations. She also feels the film has the ability to reach a wider audience since it's kid friendly.
"The Holocaust is something that needs to be remembered and a part of current history and our conversations," Wang said. "'Son of Saul' is not something that should be forgotten, but we wanted to be able to bring a film to the community that would enable parents to have a starting point of discussion about the Holocaust with their children."
"Fanny's Journey" is a French film that will be shown with English subtitles. Wang said it's a perfect movie for students in Park City School District's French immersion program, adding Fanny's story can impact any child.
Fanny is a strong, independent child whose parents send her and her sisters to a foster home in Italy to escape German-occupied France. But when Nazis enter German-ally Benito Mussolini's Italy to roundup the Jewish people there, Fanny and the home's other residents are once more endangered.
Scared of fleeing yet another country, 13-year-old Fanny makes an effort to be brave in order to be an example to the 10 children she must care for as they trek their way toward the neutral territory of Switzerland.
Wang said the threat of imprisonment in a concentration camp is a theme throughout the film. She hopes those who watch it learn from the story, which is one she hopes will never happen again.
"If we don't know our history, we're doomed to repeat it, as the saying goes," Wang said.
Levinsky and Wang also pointed out that recent events had made this film all the more important.
"You can see, under the current political climate with the Trump administration, that there is this creation of the other," Wang said. "We're definitely not there yet, but the targeting of a particular section of people — the Jewish people in particular but also people who were disabled — was a slippery slope that Hitler created by saying it's us versus them."
Levinsky added recent events covered in the news make the message of acceptance all the more important.
"It's important for people in Park City to watch the film, because of the recent uptick of inintolerance in America," he said.
"Fanny's Journey" — presented by the Park City Film Series, the United Jewish Federation of Utah and Temple Har Shalom — will show at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 24, at the Park City Library, located at 1255 Park Ave. The screening of the movie, which is in the film festival circuit and not available to rent, is free to attend.