Anne Frank writing at her desk at home in 1941.

‘Anne Frank: Parallel Stories’ to be screened in Rockport

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‘Anne Frank: Parallel Stories’ to be screened in Rockport

Anne Frank writing at her desk at home in 1941.

Gloucester’s Temple Ahavat Achim will co-sponsor a showing of the new film, “Anne Frank: Parallel Stories,” March 12 at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport. This will be among the first screenings of the film in the United States.

Narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren with excerpts from Frank’s diary, the film is a unique take on this Holocaust story. Its release marks what would have been Frank’s 90th birthday, as well as the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where she was taken and perished when she was 15.

The documentary follows a young woman who travels to locations important to Frank’s life. As she travels and learns, she produces Instagram posts that make it easier for young people to enter into the story.

The film also interweaves Frank’s life with those of five Jewish women who were her contemporaries. All survived their concentration camp experiences. Their paths were close to Frank’s, and they allow us to speculate about what might have happened if she had survived. There are interviews with the women, and with members of their families.

Mirren reads excerpts from Frank’s famous diary, and sits in a room which is an exact replica of the secret annex in Amsterdam where her family hid from the Nazis for two years. The reproduction of the room was supervised by the Anne Frank Fonds, the organization founded by Anne’s father, Otto, that is dedicated to the global distribution and utilization of her diary.

Mirren had not read Frank’s diary prior to the filming. She saw her role as “the outsider, the learner.” It was thus important for her to be able to respond directly to the things she learned about Frank, and the Holocaust, during the filming, which took place in Italy.

“With the advent of the wars in Syria, Libya, 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,’” Mirren says in the film. “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.”

After the showing of the film, there will be a discussion led by Debbie Coltin, executive director of the Lappin Foundation. “A film like this adds depth,” she said. “It’s not just one person, the scope is bigger. It helps us to understand that there were these other girls; it wasn’t just Anne Frank alone.”

The film will be shown on Thursday, March 12, at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport. The film will begin at 7; there will be a reception with refreshments at 5:45. At 8:30, there will be a discussion led by Coltin. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $5 for youth. Purchase tickets at rockportmusic.org or by calling 978-546-7391.

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