Magazine article Filmmaker

In Search of Being Seen

Magazine article Filmmaker

In Search of Being Seen

Article excerpt

Based on a cult 1960s novel by Yoram Kaniuk, Adam Resurrected was one of those projects that almost never happened. It wasn't simply the tone of the book, which invites comparisons to The Tin Drum and Slaughterhouse-Five, but also that it's about a Holocaust survivor who suffered the indignity of behaving like a pet dog for the sadistic concentration camp warden. The material is inherently grotesque, but it nevertheless inspired filmmakers like Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles, who tried and failed to bring it to screen.

"The book is famous in Israel, and I spent 20 years chasing the rights," explains producer Ehud Bleiberg, who became obsessed with the project. "Only in 2002 was I finally able to secure them, and even then we couldn't start shooting until 2007."

This German-Israeli co-production was equity financed by Bleiberg and his partner, Werner Wirsing, but even with the rights and financing in place, it was a struggle to find a director who wasn't intimidated by the material. "We approached several people, and finally Paul Schrader's name was mentioned," Bleiberg recalls. "I remembered his film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, and that this man dared to tell a story from another culture. We knew he would not be afraid."

Schrader admits he normally wouldn't make a film such as this one. "There are plenty of Holocaust films," he says, "and you don't need another one from me. But when I read the script, I was captured by the metaphor of a man who used to be a dog who meets a dog who used to be a boy. Even though it's informed by the Holocaust, that idea stood alone."

Once Schrader and the producers secured Jeff Goldblum to play the lead role, production was underway. They believed in Goldblum so much that Bleiberg turned down a $3 million investment to replace him with a bigger name. At festival screenings, Goldblum's portrayal has been heralded as a landmark performance.

But even though the film has generated positive notices, Adam Resurrected is still fighting to be seen. "To be honest," Schrader sighs, "we were flabbergasted when we didn't secure distribution. We were not aware the market would be as brutal and unforgiving as it is. …

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