On Monday, March 19, the Diversity Film Series continued with a showing of “Fateless,” an adaption of a semi-autobiographical Holocaust novel by Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertesz. The film followed a 14 year-old Jewish boy from Budapest whose life was altered when he was removed from a bus and taken to a concentration camp. The film was shown at 3 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and there was also a discussion about the film at 7:30 p.m. Leading the discussion, which concluded with several questions from the audience, were Dr. Jonathon Friedman, Director of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Dr. Harriet P. Freidenreich, a professor of Holocaust Studies from the Temple University- Ambler campus.
Prior to the second showing of the film, both Dr. Freidenreich and Dr. Friedman encouraged students to “put themselves in his shoes” while absorbing the “beautiful cinematography” and historical aspects of the film.
The tale of survival, which according to Dr. Freidenreich is a “snapshot of half a year in the life of a Hungarian Jew,” follows a young Jewish boy as he is transported to various concentration camps because of the yellow star he displays on his jacket. Much of the discussion focused on the reaction of the young boy to his circumstances, as well as the “dulling effect” of the ending of the film. According to Freidenreich, the circumstances “did not necessarily change him in a positive way” which set the film apart from many other films portraying the evolution of the main character in a more positive way.
After enduring an enormous amount of pain and starvation, the boy returns to Budapest only to find himself reminiscing about the “happiness” of the concentration camps, specifically his closest friend who was also from Budapest, and his favorite hour of the day, when work was done for the day and those in the camp had an hour for dinner and free time.
Friedman opened the discussion with a brief overview of the history of the Jewish population in Hungary, which had the thirdlargest Jewish community in Europe. Prior to German occupation, Jewish people in Hungary required special citizenship, and were then separated from the rest of the population marked by a yellow star.
Friedman spoke of the film’s relation to the upcoming Holocaust and Genocide conference which will be held on Monday March 26 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will conclude with a performance of Bent and a discussion afterward. The conference is free and tickets for Bent, which are $12 general admission and $8 for students, faculty and seniors, are available at the box office.