March of The Living – Interview with Director Jessica Sanders


Every year, thousands of teenagers and survivors of the Holocaust, who are still alive, from all over the world gather in Poland to revisit the mass genocide sites and do the Death March, a walk from Auschwitz to Birkenhau in a memory trip and knowledge of the past. This is the theme of March of The Living, a documentary directed by Jessica Sanders, which is available on VOD since June 28.

Filmed in Brazil, Germany, Poland, Israel and here in the United States, the documentary tells the touching story of hope and tell future generations their history and memory of the Holocaust.

Academy Award-nominee and winner of the Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005 for After Innocence, Jessica follows the survivors and teenagers in São Paulo, Los Angeles and Berlin on an exciting journey as they faced the past in Poland, culminating in the possibility of hope in a visit to Israel on its 60th anniversary. With a contemporary and unique look of the Holocaust, the documentary features stunning images of the concentration camps, scenes and artifacts never seen before.

The production of the March of The Living is 100% Brazilian and was produced by LG Tubaldini Jr. and has Leonardo M Barros, Luiz Noronha and Eliana Soarez as the executive producers. Editing is by Brian Johnson with the cinematography by Gustavo Hadba and Shana Hagan and original music created by Pedro Bromfman. The documentary is based on the idea Marcio Pitliuk.

Let’s check parts of the telephone interview I made with the American director Jessica Sanders:

What was it about Tubaldini Jr. idea that got your attention?

It was the 20th anniversary of the March of The Living, which I’ve never heard of it and I thought that was interesting to have young people going with survivors. It’s the last time you can go with the survivors so I just thought “how can I tell this story in a different way”. I also really appreciated the Brazilian connection and how the film came from a Brazilian idea and I wanted to include the Brazilian Jewish community. I also didn’t know that there are so many Jews in Brazil.

How was the collaboration with Tubaldini Jr.?

He was great! I came to Brazil, to São Paulo, I went to the Jewish schools and the groups that were going on the march. My whole production team was Brazilian, everybody. Tubaldini organized a trip for all of us to go to Poland for research, a Brazilian-Polish exchange.

jessica sandersWhat were the challenges to make this documentary? It was 5 different countries, different languages.

It was hard. I mean, working in Brazil is challenging also, just because there is always a holiday. It was a lot of travel. We were in São Paulo one day, then we flew to Berlin and three days later we were flying to Poland, then Israel. And we were shooting and developing the story as we shot. The actual production was very intense. We had a helicopter flying over Auschwitz, they never allowed that before. It was an ambitious production for a documentary, which it was impressive to do.

How important will this documentary be to the future generations?

I think in ten years there won’t be more survivors so this film will be a living document going to Auschwitz, Birkenhau, and other places with survivors. I feel audiences in the future can learn about Holocaust through this and feel and visit these places.

Your parents are filmmakers as well. Did that influence your decision to become one?

My parents are both Oscar winning documentary filmmakers and they raised us where filmmaking, family life and art were all very intertwined. We would go on a family vacation, travelling around the world, which was also a film scout for one of their documentaries. I never knew I would like to become one but I think it influenced a lot on my final decision.

What did you learn doing this project?

I learned so many things! One is just like how it’s hopeful the survivors were with their lives on being positive about life. I would take that for my life.


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