Philomena Franz was born in Germany in 1922 into a Sinti family (the name given to the Gypsy population traditionally settled in Germany and other German-speaking territories since the 15th century, whose culture they participate in). She is a survivor of Auschwitz and other concentration and extermination camps, living in the German town of Bergich Gladbach, near Cologne. She is also the first Roma storyteller to write and publish a memoir about the Gypsy Holocaust as a personal testimony of denunciation and a vindication of the rights of the victims.
This memoir was published in German at a key moment for Sinti activism, breaking the wall of silence surrounding the survivors and responding to the racism still present decades after the official end of Nazism. The narrative is also an account of the daily life of many German Sinti families before Hitler came to power, giving us a detailed glimpse into a fragment of European history erased from official annals and archives.
Philomena Franz, 99 years old and almost four decades after writing down her memories of her youth, approaches us with an account that spans from her childhood to her escape from the horror of the Nazi concentration camps. Philomena tells us with precision the persecution and extermination to which the Roma people were subjected, the modus operandi of the racial police, the day to day life in the concentration camps and how all that horror is part of her story and has forged her as she is today, a survivor, fighter and conscientious woman with the recognition of the genocide suffered by her people under the National Socialist regime.
Archival images and small animations of engravings and sketches of the period have been used to recreate some of the scenes described by Philomena.
The documentary contains images that may affect the sensitivity of some people.
Length: 30 minutes.
The accompanying images
Achieving an immersive documentary experience would not have been possible without the archival footage provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, László Moholy-Nagy, Anthony “Tony” S. Brooke, Open Images, Michel van der Burg and the Bundesarchiv.
Directed by: David Navarro
Screenplay by: María Sierra, Virginia Maza
Research Director: María Sierra
Production Manager: David Navarro
Production Support: Virginia Maza
Camera, lighting and sound crew: Wir Machen Film
Cinematographer: Peter Schüttemeyer
Camera Operator: Jasper Heinrichs
Editor: David Navarro
Editor Support: Virginia Maza
Motion Graphics and Color: David Navarro
Music: David Navarro
Translation and subtitles: Virginia Maza, iDISC Information Technologies, S.L.
One of the main objectives of the documentary is, as Philomena told us, to make her story known and to claim the recognition of the gypsy holocaust.
For this reason, we offer associations, universities and any interested organization or entity the possibility of screening the documentary for informative purposes and always without any profit motive.
Vimeo allows us to maintain good playback quality and ensures that the documentary can be played on any computer with an internet connection.
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