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The Independent Critic

Conceived and Directed by
Martin Moore
Running Time
30 Mins.


 "Auschwitz: If You Cried, You Died" Review 

This is one of those tough times as a film critic. I wanted desperately to like "Auschwitz: If You Cried, You Died," an Indiana made documentary short and official selection of the 2008 Heartland Film Festival. The film evolves around the story of two survivors of Auschwitz and their trip back to the camp 40 years later.

Had this film, directed by Martin Moore, simply told the story of these two men it would have been a relatively successful film with a few modest technical issues. However, in an effort to reach a younger audience, Moore has incorporated introductions and preachy teachy moments by teens that bookend the film. These messages are, how shall I say it, distracting at best and completely jarring at worst. To his credit, "Auschwitz: If You Cried, You Died" has actually been distributed on DVD to every high school in the United States. This is an admirable project, and using teens is a marvelous way, in theory, of getting the message across. Moore incorporates messages that seek to tie the holocaust into multiple contemporary tragedies ranging from genocides to school shootings.

Is there a connection? Of course. Evil is evil. Hate is hate. It's not so much the mission that's the problem, as the message's delivery. The teens are frequently shot in close-up, as is Mike Vogel, one of the two holocaust survivors who is featured and is also incorporated into the teens' segments. Rather than being effective, however, it often feels like Young @ Heart meets the holocaust.

In other words, it feels just plain wrong.

The film is elevated by footage of the mens' visit to Auschwitz, most notably Vogel's recounting of his experiences with the emotional support his wife and daughters. This scene alone makes the film worth watching, however, the five minutes of effective filmmaking doesn't compensate for the remaining 25 minutes.