Groundbreaking Documentary VITCH Explores Jewish Artist who Performed for Nazis
VITCH, a groundbreaking documentary film about resilience and moral ambiguity during one of the most brutal epochs in recent human history is being released for review in time for the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, which marks the beginning of the Holocaust and is observed on November 9 and 10.
A review or feature about the film - or interview with VITCH director Sigal Bujman -- appearing before during or immediately after this date would be especially appropriate and meaningful.
VITCH tells the story of Eddie Vitch, the Polish Jewish artist who survived the Holocaust by hiding in plain sight. Arriving in Los Angeles in 1931, Vitch (née Ignace Levkovitch) was a talented caricature and mime artist. His iconic drawings of the silver screen's biggest stars covered the walls of the Brown Derby in LA - a famous backdrop to Hollywood and the stuff of celebrity lore.
Several years later, US immigration deported Vitch back to Europe where his mime act became a huge success. When Germany invaded France in 1940, he was performing in Paris. The Nazi officers who saw him on stage sent him to perform in Germany by orders of the propaganda department. Throughout the war he performed in front of the Nazi elite and the Gestapo in Germany's most prestigious theaters.
Vitch's documents identified him as "Levkovitch," a recognizably Jewish name. In other words, he was hiding in plain sight, or is the truth that the Nazis were protecting him? As Vitch's mysterious life is examined in this astonishing film, it is painfully clear that what happened, decades ago, still haunts his far-flung family today.
Chameleon-like and charismatic, Vitch remains an enigma and challenge to historians of the Holocaust. Executive producers Yaffa and Paul Maritz commissioned Bujman, a Seattle-based filmmaker, to investigate the mystery of how Yaffa's Jewish uncle Eddie Vitch survived the war, performing on behalf of the Nazi's propaganda department and playing to sold-out crowds at some of Pari's hottest cabarets while most of his family was deported, arrested or murdered by the Nazis.
"Stories about the Holocaust are often portrayed in terms of heroes and perpetrators, victims and villains. Eddie Vitch was none of those. He was an artist who tried to survive in one of history's darkest times. His humanity and flaws, risks and ambitions, provide an arc of colors in a time period often presented in black and white," said Sigal Bujman, director of the film, which was produced by Yaffa and Paul Maritz in cooperation with Marc Pingry Productions. 7th Art Releasing is the worldwide distributor.
For two and a half years Bujman and Pingry researched and filmed in seven countries (Germany, US, Australia, Israel, Poland, England and France). A cinematic treasure -- sometimes disturbing and always riveting -- Vitch is an important work of personal investigative journalism and contemporary history that can serve as the catalyst for numerous conversations about ethics, personal responsibility and the human quest for survival. Upon completion, it was immediately accepted to international film festivals in Sidney, Buenos Aires, Stockholm, Montevideo and Jerusalem.