Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Primo Levi's harrowing memoir If This Is a Man appeared in the U.S. in 1959 as Survival in Auschwitz; historians now regard it as the most critically important written conveyance of the horrors within the Nazi concentration camps. But the account in that text only represents half of Levi's story. The other half began after his release from Auschwitz. Instead of simply returning to his native Turin, Levi and 600 others were forcibly shipped east -- thousands of miles away from their homes. Thus began a grueling, trans-national journey that Levi undertook, across war-ravaged Europe and back to Turin -- a journey that took all of 12 months to complete, and that filled him, alternately, with incredulity, anger, wonder, and astonishment -- as he reflected on the meaning of his own survival in the camps. Levi died in 1987; as a tribute to the belletrist and historian, acclaimed nonfiction filmmaker Davide Ferrario (Far from Rome, Borderline) retraces Levi's route with his cameras in his documentary Primo Levi's Journey. Ferrario travels through Ukraine, Belarus, Moldavia, Romania, Hungary, Germany, and south to his native country, evaluating, at each stop, the sociological climate and the various ways in which Eastern Europe has alternately evolved and remained static over the prior 60 years. Ferrario touches on numerous issues relevant to the contemporary sociopolitical landscape of Eastern Europe, as the Russian satellite countries struggle to develop national identities, and concurrently reflects on the experiences of Levi's original trip. Celebrated Polish filmmaker Andrezj Wajda appears early on and serves as a "tour guide" for one of the first legs of the voyage.
concentration-camp, Eastern-Europe, homecoming, Jewish, journey, liberation, political-unrest, road-trip, social-change