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Once known as the ‘Jerusalem of the North’, Vilnius and its ghosts haunt the proceedings of this transfixing courtroom drama. Numbering over 80,000 before the war, by 1943 Vilnius’s vibrant Jewish community had been brutally decimated to only 600 survivors. Based on original records from the 1963 ten-day trial of Austrian former SS officer Franz Murer, whose sadism in the Lithuanian ghetto earned him the label the ‘Butcher from Vilnius’, director Christian Frosch restages the vivid testimonies, World Jewish Congress conspiracy theories and unruly behind-the-scenes machinations of the case with an aptly titled ‘anatomical’ intensity.
Will justice be delivered against Murer—a wealthy and well-regarded statesman, farmer and family man? What would it mean for the Austrian courts, press and public to condemn him, without acknowledging the complicity of an entire society that welcomed a monster back into its fold?
Winner Best Feature Film at the 2018 Munich Film Festival.
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