Life? or Theatre?

Frans Weisz, The Netherlands, 2011, color / black and white, HDcam, 85'
Synopsis

German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon created a 700-page painted life story that she called Life? or Theatre? A play with music. She left it for safekeeping shortly before being deported in 1943, saying, "Take good care of this, it's my whole life!" Prior to that, after Kristallnacht, her father and stepmother had sent Charlotte to her grandparents in the south of France. Here, she witnessed the suicide of her grandmother and was told that her mother had ended her life in a similar way, in 1926. In order not to go mad Charlotte decides to undertake "something really extravagantly crazy" and created Life? or Theatre? in eighteen months. Not long after that, she was deported to Auschwitz, where she was killed. Dutch director Frans Weisz made a feature film about her life and work in 1980. At the time, Weisz got hold of a previously unpublished letter, which forms the leitmotif in this documentary about Salomon's life. The leading actress who played Charlotte in Weisz's film visits the places where Salomon made her paintings. Excerpts from the feature film are mixed with black-and-white family photos, images of the paintings, and interviews with the people involved. They read the letter for the first time and give their views on a shocking revelation.

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