University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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News Bureau . Schofield Hall 201 . Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
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UW-Eau Claire to Screen Powerful
And Disturbing Film Nov. 18-21

 MAILED:  Nov. 11, 2004

EAU CLAIRE —"Amen." — a 2002 film that dramatizes the true history of how religious leaders ignored the extermination of Europe's Jews during World War II — will be presented Nov. 18-21 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire . A story of unwavering conscience and unspeakable horror, the film will screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in Davies Theatre.

In "Amen." director Costa-Gavras ("Z," "Missing," "The Music Box") recreates the long suppressed labyrinth of politics and piety that allowed Hitler's Final Solution to become a reality.

Ulrich Tukur stars as the respected chemical engineer Kurt Gerstein, a real historical figure who developed a compound to purify drinking water for troops at the front. Soon after he is commissioned into the SS, Gerstein witnesses the Nazi's application of his invention — Zyklon B — to systematically murder interred Jews. He chooses to act, but the only sympathetic ear he is able to find is that of a young Jesuit priest (Mathieu Kassovitz) with deep ties to the Vatican .

While Father Riccardo takes on the obstructive Vatican hierarchy, Gerstein walks a tightrope between documenting and enabling the atrocities that his fellow SS officers cold-bloodedly commit. The two unlikely allies fight to reveal the truth to the Church and the world — and discover that the fates of a man of conscience committing treason for the sake of humanity, and a man of God committing heresy to thwart genocide, are ultimately the same.

Costa-Gavras reveals the heroism and deceit surrounding the Vatican 's response to the Holocaust with both urgency and detachment, underscoring the disturbing gray areas of character that tolerated the Nazi atrocities that the Church was called upon to condemn.

Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called the film "a political thriller of suspense and subtlety. Costa-Gavras has wanted to make 'Amen.' for nearly four decades, and it was worth the wait."

In English, the 132-minute color film is not rated.

Admission is $2 for International Film Society members and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff and $1 for UW-Eau Claire students. Tickets are available at the University Service Center in Davies Center 's east lobby, (715) 836-3727.

The film is sponsored by the UW-Eau Claire International Film Society.

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: November 11, 2004