It seems more than coincidental that two powerful French films opening Friday deal with anti-Semitism, albeit in radically different ways. 24 Days dramatizes the 2006 kidnapping of a young Jewish man in Paris; Because I Was a Painter is a documentary about art created by inmates of Nazi camps. In addressing both the recent past and that of World War II, these films attest to the ongoing tensions of Jewish identity in Europe, especially France.
Because I Was a Painter, a co-production of France and Germany, explores the representation of concentration camp life through images. Director Christophe Cognet juxtaposes interviews of artist-survivors with drawings that are striking and haunting.