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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

The Song of Names

by director François Girard

My films have often dealt with the depiction of other cultures, from the Chinese Cultural Revolution in The Red Violin to the Meiji Restoration in Silk and the First Nations in Hochelaga, Land of Souls. This is one of the great privileges of movie making; the opportunity to travel in time and meet other cultures.

The Song of Names is no exception. During this adventure, I crossed paths with a great number of remarkable human beings: rabbis, musicians, Jewish scholars and historians, not to mention the most gifted cast I have ever worked with, and many dear old loyal filmmaking companions. Together, we shared a common mission: remembering.

We live in societies plagued with amnesia. The remarkable technologies available to us nowadays, these small screens shining everywhere in the dark, jail us in the present. We are increasingly captive of the NOW and the notions of past and future are slowly dissolving in the collective consciousness. In the course of my research for instance, I have learned that fifty percent of the population under thirty years old don’t even know what the word Holocaust means! And of those who recognize the word, how many can put a meaning to it? How many have truly registered the nature of what happened during WWII?

Ignorance is a plague. It is the only explanation for the rise of far-right movements and the extremists marching the streets with swastikas tattooed on their arms. And the Holocaust is one genocide among many that are slowly drifting into oblivion, a little more every day. If we can’t remember the dark pages of human history, we repeat our mistakes.

With The Song of Names, our goal was to make a modest contribution to the remembrance of those who perished in the not so distant past.

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