Coming to Penthouse Cinema November 21st

The Oscar®-winning Actress retraces Anne’s life through the pages of her diary, and the lives of 5 other women who, as children and adolescents, were also deported to concentration camps but survived the Holocaust.

One single Anne Frank moves us more than the countless others who suffered just as she did but whose faces have remained in the shadows” – Primo Levi

Actress Helen Mirren, Oscar®-winner for best performance in The Queen, will be the very special guide in the documentary #AnneFrank. Parallel Lives, written and directed bySabina Fedeli and Anna Migotto, original soundtrack by Lele Marchitelli, produced by 3D Produzioni and Nexo Digital in collaboration with Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, and Sky Arte rolling out this autumn to cinemas all over the world.

This is a story we must never forget. We are beginning to lose the generation of people who are living witness of what happened in Europe in those terrible days, and so it’s all more important to keep the memory alive looking into the future. With the advent of the wars in Siria, Libia, Iraq, with the immigration issue that’s happening in Europe, it’s so easy to start pointing your finger at different races, different tribes, different cultures, different people and say ‘you’re to blame for my problems’. So, I just feel the diary of Anne Frank is an amazing teaching tool, an amazing vessel to carry the real understanding of human experiences of the past into our present and very much into our future. I find it very, very important and that’s why I wanted to do this piece”.

Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt on 12th June 1929 and this year she would have been 90 years old. The documentary film dedicated to her tells the story of her life through the pages of her diary: an extraordinary text that has made the tragedy of Nazism known to millions of readers all over the world, and revealed the brilliant, enlightening intelligence of a young girl who wanted to become a writer.

Anne’s story is intertwined with that of five Holocaust survivors, teenage girls just like her, with the same ideals, the same desire to live, the same courage: Arianna Szörenyi, Sarah Lichtsztejn-Montard, Helga Weiss and sisters Andra and Tatiana Bucci.

What would Anne Frank’s life have been like had she survived the days at Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen? What would have happened to the hopes and dreams she wrote about in her diaries? What would her talented voice have told us about Evil, about Auschwitz, about the death marches, about Bergen Belsen? And what makes her, still today, a friend for millions of teenagers who identify with her youth, her suffering and her fears? Anne wrote about herself and the world to an imaginary friend called Kitty, a mirror and a consolation to her.

Helen Mirren will introduce audiences to Anne’s story through the words in her diary. The set will be her room in the secret refuge in Amsterdam, reconstructed in every detail by set designers from the Piccolo Theatre in Milan, part of the Union of European Theatres. It is a remarkably faithful, authentic reconstruction of the interior that will take us right back to 1942. The room contains the objects in Anne’s life, the photographs she covered the walls of her room with, and the notebooks she wrote.  

Off “the set”, a girl, played by Martina Gatti, will lead us on a journey to get to know the places that were part of Anne Frank’s short life and her feelings.  She is a young girl of today who wants to know about the story of the Jewish teenager who became a symbol of the greatest tragedy of the 20th Century, and she also speaks to us through social networks. In fact, photos and posts are her language, and in this way Martina gives us her interpretation of what she discovers, what she sees, from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany (where Anne and her sister Margot died) to the Holocaust Memorial in Paris, up to and including her visit to the secret refuge in Amsterdam. Martina is one of the thousands of teenagers who feel close to Anne, one of the many imaginary friends, the many Kitties all over the world who dream of having a special place in her heart.

Her role as a silent witness, talking to her peers using social media as a communication tool, comes from the need to place the tragedies of the past in relation to the present, to understand what could be an antidote today against all forms of racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism. It is through Anne Frank’s curiosity and her desire not to remain indifferent, that we realize how contemporary her words are, and how powerful the voices of those who can still tell their story. Those voices belong to Arianna, Sarah, Helga, Andra and Tatiana, who tell parallel stories. Like Anne Frank, they all suffered persecution and deportation when they were very young. They were denied the carefree light-heartedness of their youth, they lost their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends and loved ones in concentration camps. The stories of the survivors of the Holocaust put words on the blank pages of Anne’s diary, since hers fell silent when everyone in the secret refuge in Amsterdam was arrested on August 4th, 1944. They convey the memory of all the evil they had to live through in the concentration camps, the strength of adolescence in the face of the Nazi oppressors and their cruelty, the return to a normal life and the will to pass on the memory of what happened to new generations. Their testimonies alternate with those of their children and grandchildren.

In the documentary we also hear the voices of Rabbi Michael Berenbaum, historian and professor of Jewish studies at various American universities, Holocaust historian Marcello Pezzetti, director of the Holocaust Museum in Rome,  French ethno-psychologist Nathalie Zajde, witnesses Doris Grozdanovicova and Fanny Hochbaum, world-renowned violinist Francesca Dego, Yves Kugelmann poublisher and member of the Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, Ronald Leopold – director of the Anne Frank House, Alain Granat director of online magazine Jewpopo, and photographer Simon Daval.

The original film soundtrack is by Lele Marchitelli, who has written the music to films by notable directors such as Giuseppe Piccioni, Renato De Maria, Cinzia TH Torrini, Riccardo Milani, Carlo Verdone, Paolo Sorrentino – including the soundtrack to the film La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty).

Anne Frank Fonds was founded in Basel in 1963 by Otto Frank as a non profit organization. The foundation holds the rights to the works, letters and photos of Anne Frank and members of her family.

#AnneFrank. Parallel Lives – a 3D Produzioni and Nexo Digital production in collaboration with Anne Frank Fonds, Basel and the Piccolo Teatro, Milan-Teatro d’Europa, (part of the Union of European Theatres since 1990) founded by Giorgio Strehler, to be distributed from this autumn in over 50 countries.

Anne Frank 

Anne Frank (1929-1945) was given a red and white diary by her father for her thirteenth birthday on 12th June 1942. Her last entry was written on 1st August 1944, three days before her arrest in the “Secret Annex”, located in the Prinsengracht 263 building. Miep Gies and Bep Voskuij, two of Otto Frank’s workers, found Anne Frank’s diaries after the family had been deported. Miep kept them in the hope that one day she would be able to return them to Anne. After the war, when she discovered that Anne had died in the concentration camp, Miep gave the notebooks to Anne’s father, Otto, the only surviving member of the family, who decided to have them published. It was a painful decision to make, determined by the desire to grant his daughter’s wish: “I want to go on living even after my death”. Otto chose the title Anne herself would have wanted: “Het Achterhuis”, ‘The House Behind’ (the secret, hiding place).