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The Book of Curses (2020)

In 2005, a diary was uncovered from deep within the Warsaw Jewish Archives. It was a short diary, written on 12 pieces of card, by Benjamin Berkovitch from inside the Novogrudok ghetto between the first big massacre and the second big massacre that reduced the... read more

Completed On: 30 Jan, 2020

Duration: 1 hr 5 min 0 sec

Genres: Documentary

Country: Israel

Director: Iouri Goroulev

Submitted By: Michael Kagan

The Book of Curses Poster
In 2005, a diary was uncovered from deep within the Warsaw Jewish Archives. It was a short diary, written on 12 pieces of card, by Benjamin Berkovitch from inside the Novogrudok ghetto between the first big massacre and the second big massacre that reduced the large Jewish community to only 500. The producer's father, Jack Kagan, was one of them. The diary describes, in high Hebrew, the slow, torturous descent to hell as the 'refined' German spirit unleashed the worst savagery against an innocent population. Who was he? Where did he come from? And what was his end? The co-producers, a Jew and a non-Jew, spent 2 years searching for any trace of this sardonic witness whose writings were saved by a non-Jewish lawyer. In particular, the film focuses on the final words of his testimony “do not compile lamentations about our destruction, only a book of curses, and more to the point, one huge and firm curse to all humanity and culture.”
  • Directors
    Iouri Goroulev
  • Producers
    Michael Kagan
    Tunnel of Hope
  • Producers
    Tamara Vershitskaya
    Tunnel of Hope
  • Film Type
    Documentary
  • Genres
    History, Jewish, Holocaust, Humanity
  • Runtime
    1 hours 5 minutes 0 seconds
  • Completion Date
    30 Jan, 2020
  • Production Budget
    120000 USD
  • Country of Origin
    Israel
  • Country of Filming
    Belarus, Israel, Poland
  • Film Language
    English, Russian
  • Shooting Format
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Film Color
    Color
  • Student Project
    No
  • First-time Filmmaker
    No

Miami Jewish Film Festival
United States
Miami
03/31/2021
Florida Premiere

Boca Rotan Jewish Film Festival
United States
Boca Rotan
02/04/2021
North America Premier

Indie Fest Film Awards
United States
Winner

Spotlight Documentary Film Award
United States
Silver

Depth of Field Film Awards
United States
Winner

Director's Biography

Born on May 22, 1944. Graduated from the film-engineering department of the Leningrad film engineers institute in 1971, from the camera department of the Moscow cinema institute in 1982.
Since 1975 he works at the "Belarusfilm" state studio: a cameraman at first, now a director & cameraman.
Owner of a private studio "STOPSHOT”, produces the documentaries there.
As a cameraman: over 100 documentaries on culture, history, arts and religion issues.
As a director-cameraman: some 40 films.

Prize-winner as cameraman:
1980 —Grand Prix — OLYMPIC Festival — International Sport Film Festival, Italy;
1983 — Gold medal — FULL TEAM ON ATTACK — 9th All-Union Sport Film Festival, Lithuania;
1984 — Grand Prix — WHO WILL CORRECT DEETRA’S FAULT — 12th International Film and TV programs Festival “Ecofilm”, Czechoslovakia;
1988 — Special Prize —THEATER OFTIMES OF PERESTROIKA AND GLASNOST — 1th All-Union Non-fiction Film Festival “Golden Centaur”, Leningrad, USSR.

Prize-winner as director & cameraman:
1990 — 1st Prize — FACT — All-Union Author’s Film Festival, Belarus;
1997 — 1stst Prize and Special Prize — MATER MISERICORDIAE — 12thth International Film Festival, Poland;
1998 — Grand Prix and Special Prize — PRAYER — 13th Film Festival, Poland.

2004 -- Special Prize –MONUMENT—1 International Film Festival, Volocolamsk, Russia
2008—Grand Prix—Land of Happy Dreams—Multimedia Festival Polskie Ojczyzny 2008/Poland
2009—Third Prize -- Land of Happy Dreams--24thth International Film Festival Niepokalanow, Poland;

Director's Statement

As a Roman Catholic Belarusian living in Minsk born of a Jewish mother and a Polish Roman Catholic father I am drawn to the history of my two peoples - the good and the bad and the terrible. The Holocaust is the culmination of this long history but it is not its summary. The subject of Berkovitch's diary seems to encapsulate my own inner world as much as it does the outer reality. The diary was written by a Jew under totally barbaric conditions but it was saved by a Roman Catholic who risked his life and that of his family to hide the diary and then delivery it safely to the remains of Polish Jewry in Warsaw. Especially heavily upon me is the curse with which he ends his diary. This film is an attempt to unravel that curse.

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