Christophe Gognet, the writer and director of BECAUSE I WAS A PAINTER: ART THAT SURVIVED THE NAZI CAMPS -- that gives us the horror all over again via the art created by concentration camp victims, some of these survivors who are, or were until very recently, still with us. (The film was made a few years ago and was first viewed art the Rome Film Festival in 2013.)
Samuel Willenberg, who survived Treblinka -- does not. "What beauty?!" he practically shouts. "There is none. Devoid." The filmmaker allows us to have plenty of time to judge for ourselves, as we see the work of both survivors and of many of the artists who died but managed to leave behind a surprising amount of their work. And as no photos were ever taken of certain camps, such as Sobibor, the single drawing extant of women being gassed there gives us the only semi-eye-witness account that we have -- even if it could not have been viewed by the artist from the inside-the-gas-chamber POV that is shown in the drawing. (More likely this came from accounts given by a guard or a kapo.)
Schindler's List can't manage. (For perhaps the best "art" film about the Holocaust, try the Hungarian masterpiece Fateless, from Lajos Koltai.)
Dinah Gottliebova, who drew portraits for Doctor Mengele, and demanded, once these were unearthed post-war, that they be returned to her. Why were they not is explained quite interestingly and thoroughly. We learn too of Franciszek Jazwiecki, the artist who managed to paint Holocaust victims in four different camps -- and what portraits (shown below) these are!
Gene Hackman in Night Moves, "watching paint dry," it is something like watching a painting come slowly into being. Clearly this snail pace was a directorial choice, and we must honor this, though I think M. Cognet could easily have excised a good ten or fifteen minutes of footage and not made his movie any the lesser for it. What remains is still quite something: an original, important and thought-and-feeling-provoking addition to Holocaust history.