“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)
“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
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
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