Film History

Inna Rogatchi and her husband artist Michael Rogatchi had been close friends with Simon Wiesenthal during many years. They visited Simon in Vienna regularly, were exchanging letters, and were privileged to discuss many topics with that legendary person in friendly and confident way.

The film represent a part of those conversations which are distinctly different from a formal interviews.

Simon Wiesenthal and Inna Rogatchi at the Simon Wiesenthal’s Jewish Documentation Centre, Vienna, 1997. (C) The Rogatchi Archive.

At the same time, Inna Rogatchi has conducted her special historic research on the topics they were discussing with Mr Wiesenthal, and which were not publicly known before. The research took place in several countries, including Austria and Poland. Thanks to the results of the research, the film provides  a new historical material which is a core purpose of any documentary.

The special footage has been filmed, following the additional research, in the Mathausen concentration camp. The thinking behind it was to serve two purposes: to provide more extensive documentation on the topic of the Nazi concentration and extermination camps  ( as often and mostly, the footage of Aushcwitz is used for those purposes); and to document the subject from a close range, in order to have an objective material to examine the number of psychological, social, philosophical and mental aspects of the Holocaust on the basic of the actual footage.

Inna Rogatchi has been written many articles on topics. Her extensive profile on Simon Wiesenthal published in the high-end IMAGE magazine in Finland, had caused a wide public and professinal interest. The leading Scandinavian film producer, director and writer,  and widely internationally recognised Film guru late Peter von Bagh, a good friend and colleague of Inna,  had been  very interested  in the project, as well. Eventually, Inna Rogatchi has written, directed and completed the film.

An unusal for the Holocaust documentaries feature of the orginal art has been added to the narrative of Simon Wiesenthal and special footage of the camp. Often, this film is described as ‘an art film about the Holocaust’.

Inna Rogatchi believes that dimension of the original art add a volume and metaphorical aspects to the genre of a film document, and emphasises, in the artistic symbols an images, the matters discussed in her film by Simon Wiesenthal.

Interestingly, Simon Wiesenthal himself saw many of the art works by Michael Rogatchi which are featured in the film, and the one of the paintings, The Way, had been with Simon and Cyla Wiesenthal for many years. Simon Wiesenthal told and wrote to Michael  Rogatchi that The Way had been ‘the one of the most favourite art works” of his and Cyla.

Simon Wiesenthal looking at the Michael Rogatchi’s art works on Holocaust. Photo: Inna Rogatchi. (C) The Rogatchi Archive.

Both Simon Wiesenthal and the footage in the documenary are filmed from a close range, in order to bring that  unique person and the elements of the filmed history as close to viewer, as possible. It is a very personal, intimate cinematography.

The overall aim of the film has been double-folded: to create a close-range’ documentary portrait of the legendary person; and to bring out the topics which are still actual for today and will be so for tomorrow.

Simon Wiesenthal with Michael and Inna Rogatchi at his office in Vienna. 1998. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Archive