PARCE QUE J’ETAIS PEINTRE / BECAUSE I WAS A PAINTER

SYNOPSIS
Christophe Cognet’s absorbing documentary about artworks created by
those imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II explores
a number of paradoxes. Can a drawing of unimaginable horrors, for
instance, ever be considered “beautiful”? What, exactly, is “beauty”? The
surviving artists, interviewed in in their homes in Israel, France, Poland,
and other countries, express a range of opinions on these matters; one
painter asserts that depicting his surroundings, no matter how gruesome,
on paper was the only way to endure the torture. Others declare that
sketching people, places, and events from the past was crucial to their
survival. The testimony of these subjects is profoundly moving, never
more so than when they offer a close critical analysis of the pieces
they made during their incarceration. Cognet also meets with several
museum curators and art historians who shed light on the trove of works
left by those died in the camps—including the scores of portraits that
Dinah Gottliebova, who was assigned to work with Josef Mengele, did of
Roma detainees shortly before they were killed. Tackling two seemingly
irreconcilable subjects—the atrocities of the Holocaust and the drive to
create art—Because I Was a Painter provides a vital discussion of both.

“A meditation on suffering and beauty and how art can bridge the gap between the
two.”
—The Hollywood Reporter

DIRECTOR
Christophe Cognet

SCREENPLAY
Christophe Cognet, Pierre François Moreau and Jean Breschand

CAST
N/A

GENRE Documentary
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 100’
PRODUCTION France, Germany, 2014
FORMAT(S) Blu-Ray, DCP, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Cinema Guild