The most remarkable achievement…
Individual identity, individual healing, individual transcendence are his subjects. It deserves a much wider audience.
John Russell in the New York Times


— It is vital to be “who we are,” no matter how scary – and then, to move on, “to be others” too (again, no matter how scary) —

Say I’m a Jew has played at the Berlin Film Festival, alongside Lanzmann’s Shoah and was screened at the New York Museum of Modem Art and the Jewish Museum.
After being integrated into the video installation JEW at the Spertus Museum in Chicago and the Judah Magnes Museum in the Bay Area, it has toured the U.S. in the context of the exhibit Witness and Legacy and was acquired by the Florida Holocaust Museum.
It has also played at a Conference in Alternatives in Jewish Education (CAJE), and at various Hillel, Jewish Community Centers and Media Centers across the U.S.
It is distributed by Facets Multimedia & Electronic Arts Intermix
In 2014, it played at the Budapest Bálint Ház followed by a discussion between PM and the sociologist András Kovács from CEU.
An interview in Szombat, Budapest, ensued.
– As of September 2014 it is part of the Mémorial de la Shoah collection in Paris –

Distance in space and time – Jewish identity for Second-Generation European Jews after their move to the U.S.

“I am moved by what you are doing, I hope your video will reach many viewers. I hope it will bring them closer to a world they could never enter.”
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, in a private letter.

“The most remarkable achievement… Not a moment is wasted, nor a word. The speakers are intelligent, articulate, fearless…
Individual identity, individual healing, individual transcendence are his subjects. It deserves a much wider audience.”
John Russell in the New York Times (where he was chief art critic and a critic for more than a half-century at the Sunday Times of London)
Complete Review

“A powerful, short documentary film Say I’m a Jew… collaged interviews with men and women who, like Marton, are children of European survivors now living in the United States. Those who speak on Marton’s video describe their struggle of carrying the legacy and their rejection and acceptance of their Jewish heritage. The chorus of different voices says things that are hard to say and hard to hear.”
Yehudit Shendar, Senior Art Curator at Yad Vashem, Israel

“Pier Marton’s videotape, is a litany of faces and voices of European Jews transplanted to America, intensely revealing of the Jewish experience since World War II. This chorus of voices is the post-holocaust generation, born between 1946 and 1957, who inherited the legacy of terror which their parents somehow survived. The difficult confessions are not only of the cruelties suffered, but of the most painful feelings of anger, contempt and shame turned inward and often resulting in self-hatred and alienation. In this series of statements which seem to break a long silence…the theme which surfaces again and again, is the rejection of one’s Jewishness because that identity is associated with persecution.”
Gary Reynolds, Changing Channels, 1985

Much of Martin Buber’s work revolves around the principle that all life is encounter. Another Jewish philosopher, Emmanuel Lévinas, refines this interaction by stating that the meeting with an face implies a distinct responsibility.
In the field of documentary, many filmmakers
aim to avoid the so-called “boring talking-heads” of interviews by resorting to the use of “cutaways.
For me
the topic in question here warranted a different approach; I wanted neither to distract nor to entertain.
By refusing the technique of cutaways, and insisting on and exploring faces, I was hoping for a
memorable face-to-face engagement.

Please let me know if you would like to have access to the entire piece.

One of its many screenings took place in 1998 at the University of Southern California (USC) in the context of the opening of the Institute for Study of Jews in American Life:

The institute’s inaugural public event, a special screening of Pier Marton’s documentary “Say I’m a Jew,” is planned for Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. in Room 108 of the George Lucas Instructional Building.
Say I’m a Jew” explores identity issues confronting the children of Holocaust survivors, both in Europe and the United States.
After the screening, cultural historian Sander L. Gilman, the University of Chicago’s Henry R. Luce Professor of Liberal Arts in Human Biology, will discuss the film and its implications. Gilman is the author or editor of more than 50 books.
The institute’s first academic conference, “Eye & Thou: Jewish Autobiography in Film and Video,” exploring contemporary issues of American Jewish identity, will be held Oct. 24-26 in the Norris Cinema Theatre.

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MartonHurtJewSML MartonFlameSML

Pier Marton – an early description

One way to describe “Say I’m a Jew” is to say that it progresses from a “memory” of the Holocaust and early self-denial experiences to a manifesto-like affirmation of Jewish identity.

Another way is to state its intention to stand at the crossroads of various tendencies:

1. The position taken by the noted (non-Jewish) Italian painter, Giorgio de Chirico who, in his memoirs published in 1945, asserts that “Antisemitism will end only when the Jews stop hiding and assuming the attitudes of whipped dogs and will say in a loud voice and to everyone’s face ‘I am a Jew and I am proud of it’.”

2. The belief expressed first in the context of the Black Liberation struggle that “A culture that takes time off to refurbish itself produces a personality without a purpose. There is no point in finding out who I am if I do not know what to do with that knowledge,”* and later, by the Jewish Feminist writer, Jenny Bourne** – “What we do is who we are.”

* A Sivanandan, “Culture and Identity” in Liberator. June 1970.
**Jenny Bourne in Race & Class, Summer 1987

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