#AnneFrank. Parallel Stories
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#AnneFrank. Parallel Stories

For more 2020 AJFF previews, visit atlantajewishtimes.timesofisrael.com/two-decades-in-the-making/

This updated accounting of the “icon of the Shoah,” – as Anne Frank is called in the film – relates her story and her legacy, from many different and parallel perspectives. A young woman visits the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, stopping at the black matzevah, grave marker, noting Anne and her sister Margot’s death at the camp in 1945. She tweets a message to Anne. Hence the hashtag in the film’s title.

She continues her journey around Europe, tweeting as she goes, and completes the trip in the annex where Anne and her family hid for two years in Amsterdam before the Nazis discovered them and deported them first to Westerbork, then Auschwitz and finally Bergen-Belsen. Only Anne’s father Otto survived the Holocaust. When he returned to Amsterdam, he found Anne’s diaries and decided to publish them.

But the Twitter account is not the only accounting in this film. Several female Holocaust survivors who had been about the same age as Anne Frank recounted their stories of hiding, deportation and camp survival. As they relate their stories, Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren reads dramatically from Anne’s diary. After she reads of Anne’s first kiss, one of the survivors talks about her first love in a concentration camp.

The film thus goes back and forth between the past and present, embellished by archival footage and photos of camp life – especially children’s lives in the camps — as well as Anne’s family life before they went into hiding in July 1942. There are no existing photos of Anne once she entered the annex.

“The Diary of a Young Girl,” one of the best-read Holocaust books, particularly for children, is brought to life in this educational film. And, one of the most-quoted lines from Anne’s diary is proven true. “I want to go on living even after my death,” the budding author wrote with prescience.#

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