Director: Rex Bloomstein

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


Even after 60 years, there is much to be explored and shared about the Holocaust. Scores of documentaries valiantly record survivors' harrowing testimonies or uncover a surprising new angle through archival research. But it's still possible to feel numb to the unspeakable images and stories from this diabolical chapter of human history. Propelled by this observation, Rex Bloomstein brings us KZ a groundbreaking, haunting film that looks at emotional repression and confrontation today in relation to the Nazi atrocities. Bloomstein examines the spiritual shadow cast on visitors, tour guides, and local residents by Mauthausen, a concentration camp ("KZ" for short) on the banks of the Danube.

With a nonjudgmental camera, Bloomstein descends on this idyllic Austrian town to query old-timers about the dark secrets of the past and newcomers about choosing to live there now, and to monitor tourists' reactions to the death camp. Meanwhile, KZ tour guides unflinchingly recount the horrors of Mauthausen in minute detail. They carry the deep burden of memorializing people without voices and facing excruciating truths day after day, even as those around them exhibit a range of responses—from anguish to indifference or denial—to the chilling history surrounding them.

With its spare, brutally honest style, KZ lays its subjects bare, provocatively inviting us to scrutinize the humanity of "Mauthauseners" and international tourists alike. But as it does so—and this is the fierce power of KZ—we can't help but look at ourselves and our own demons.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details


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