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From "Shoah" to "Son of Saul": an Intergenerational Dialogue

For over seventy years following the liberation of the camps at the end of WW II, films of every genre and national origin have addressed the Holocaust and its aftermath.  Documentaries and fiction features have inspired new debates on the ethics and esthetics of cinematic representation of the Shoah for contemporary filmmakers in a Central European landscape where borders have been redrawn and once-sealed archives made accessible. Working through the silence and suppression of Cold War-era "organized forgetting" of ethnic and religious identities, the contested terrain of memory, history and personal experience is explored in new interpretations and debates.  This presentation  compares Claude Lanzmann's documentary Shoah (France, 1985) and László Nemes's Son of Saul (Hungary, 2015), exploring ways in which transgenerational cinema reckons with the traumas of history, concluding with reference to current film production in Hungary. 
Catherine Portuges is Professor of Comparative Literature, Director of the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies, and Curator of the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a frequent lecturer at international conferences, an invited programmer, curator, juror and consultant for film festivals and colloquia, and a delegate to international film festivals. Her books include Cinemas in Transition in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989 (Temple, 2013); Gendered Subjects (Routledge, 2012); and Screen Memories: the Hungarian Cinema of Márta Mészáros (Indiana, 1993). Her recent essays have appeared in Cinematic Homecomings: Exile and Return in Transnational Cinema; Cinema, State Socialism and Society in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1917-1989: Re-Visions; Bringing the Dark Past to Light: the Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe; and A Companion to Eastern European Cinemas. Prof. Portuges serves on the editorial board of Studies in Eastern European Cinema (UK), Jewish Film and New Media, and the Journal of the American Hungarian Educational Association; she is a member of the Academic Advisory Board, Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies, and Film Consultant for Eastern Europe, European Psychoanalytic Film Festival (UK). She was awarded the Chancellor's Medal for Distinguished Teaching, the Pro Cultura Hungarica Medal from the Republic of Hungary for her contributions to Hungarian Cinema, and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for "The Subjective Lens."
**Please note: this lecture will be preceded by a film screening of Son of Saul on Wednesday, March 15. See the event here:



Thursday, March 16, 2017. 05:30 PM


Oshman Hall, McMurtry Building, 355 Roth Way


Taube Center for Jewish Studies, CREEES Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies




Free and open to the public.
RSVP requested.