The father and daughter team who brought the voice of a Holocaust victim to the Instagram – Israel News



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Is it a work that promotes the memory of the Holocaust, or is it brutally trampled? Does this insult the young, or do you find a contemporary and effective way to penetrate your wall of apathy? Is it as superficial as Instagram or an innovative breakthrough? Does it exploit the Holocaust to tell a forced and superficial story or, finally, jump over the musty cliches of obsolete memorial ceremonies and history books?

It's hard to remember when a new media creation made so many Israelis so emotional and argumentative – before anyone actually saw it. The tactics that marked the exit of culture minister Miri Regev have entered the public domain in the last few days, and the fights that erupted on social networks and the media on "The Story of Eve" were particularly stormy and emotional, raising clouds of dust that hid the absurdity of arguing about a work no one has seen so far – but which appears remarkably on the Ayalon Highway.

Shortly before "Eva's Story," the first Instagram video about the Holocaust, scheduled to hit its smartphone, the two people behind the presumptuous project, the team of father and daughter Mati and Maya Kochavi, explained its controversial initiative. Mati Kochavi, 57, is a millionaire who controls some high-tech companies and whose father is a Holocaust researcher. Maya Kochavi, 27, spent most of her life in New York. She set up a women's empowerment blog for girls and used her knowledge of social networks to advise international companies on how to use them to communicate with children and adolescents.

>> New memory genre & # 39 ;: a & # 39; Instagram page & # 39; of the Holocaust victim draws fire by dulling the story ■ & # 39; Anne Frank of Budapest & # 39 ;: Newly discovered diary tells the life of the Jewish girl in Hungary occupied by the Nazis

It's a platform like Instagram – which is based on likes, ratings, visuals and short videos that inevitably lead to superficial speech – the right way to preserve the memory of the Holocaust?

"I can assure you that this was the first question that came up when they made the first feature film about the Holocaust," says the eldest Kochavi.

Your daughter is quick to defend her generation and her applications. "Instagram is not as shallow a tool as many people think … Instagram is essentially the new diary and to use this platform, explore how it allows you to feel that you are living the life of the person you are seeing , is incredible. Using that for a historical concept, using this tool and putting a little bit of seriousness into it, is very powerful for the young generation, "says Maya.

"The truth is I do not understand how anyone asks that question," adds Mati. "People are getting confused because there is so much bullshit on Instagram. But I'm going to tell you a secret: there's a lot of bullshit on the television and the movies too. So does that mean there are no movies or series that move you? I am surprised by the conservatism and lack of understanding about the power of this tool, which is capable of revealing something about the Holocaust that we do not understand.

"I am a historian by training and over the years I have read about 200 books on the Holocaust, so I know this chapter of history. When I took my camera in my hand, I began to think about how Eva felt and what she saw. There is that famous photo of the boy in the Warsaw ghetto standing with his hands up and you see the look on his face. We're seeing a picture the Nazis took, but I always wondered what he saw in front of him at that moment. So we're taking this thing and asking questions. What, for example, did this girl feel the first time she put the yellow star on her? The "Instagram movie," as we are calling it, offers another angle from which you can look at something, an angle that has not existed so far, because a film director who made the same story would do it in a totally different way.

"This tool allows you to see the world in a new way, in a way that other media does not allow – and people are deceived about it and its capabilities.It is not superficial.After watching the movie, you can come and tell me "Instagram is an amazing storytelling tool because it forces you to look at unique angles, and people can use it to create works of art. amazing and fascinating art. "

Mati and Maya Kochavi.
Tomer Appelbaum

One of the main virtues of this social network is the ability to create a special intimacy with the character in front of him, Maya says. "This is something we've known for years. When I built fictional characters who spoke through Instagram and Facebook with girls and teens who were dealing with various difficulties – eating disorders, abuse, exploitation, etc. – Their response was incredible. They felt they could open up, that they had someone to talk to. They felt it was a safe place for them. So if the content is not superficial, the platform is also not superficial. "

PM endorsement

"Eva's Story" is a film made up of dozens of clips that were scheduled to hit the network on Wednesday and Thursday, one after another, like Instagram stories. The first clip should be published at 4 pm. Wednesday (on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day) on the project's Instagram page (@ eva.stories), to be followed by more and more clips, every half hour, for 24 hours.

The plot is based on a diary written by Eva Heyman, a 13-year-old Hungarian girl whose country was invaded by the Nazis in 1944. "What if a girl in the Holocaust had Instagram?" They read the posters that were placed on Ayalon Highway, of Gush Dan, which is also the issue that opens the trailer that has become viral in recent days.

Numerous celebrities were invited to promote the project in social media. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has joined the exaggeration. In a clip that Netanyahu posted on Twitter, he not only said he had seen "Eve's Story" before it was released, but he asked everyone to create their own stories about the victims of the Holocaust. "For the world to understand and so we can remember what we have lost and what has been returned to us with the establishment of the State of Israel."

About 218,000 people (as of Tuesday morning) were already following Eve on the Instagram. This mix of holocaust, modernity, celebrities, clips and the colorful trailer with dance, ice cream, a selfie and animated hearts, is not exactly arm in arm with the serious, statesman, somber, preferably black. and white tone that characterized the memory of the Holocaust over the decades.

Let's forget who killed who?

The idea of ​​the project came from a conversation that Mati Kochavi had a year ago with some friends about the memory of the Holocaust. "These friends, intellectuals who represent the most conservative approach to memory – museums, books, etc. – they told me about a great museum project they wanted to do. Studies that we have done have shown that interest in the Holocaust is beginning to decline; in the rest of the world, it hardly exists. At one point I realized that for a 15-year-old, the Holocaust seemed as distant as the American Civil War seemed to me.

Then one day I saw an interesting program about the Tutsis and the Hutus, and I realized that no one remembers who murdered who there – the Tutsis killed the Hutus or otherwise. And I said to myself, "Wait a minute, maybe one day someone will get confused and ask yourself who was killing those in the Holocaust." It was a horrifying thought.

"The memory of the Holocaust is something I've been busy with for more than 30 years," says Kochavi. "When I was a student, I wrote a piece on the subject and started thinking about how we could talk about it in a way that many people would like to see."

Six years ago Kochavi founded the American company Vocativ, which uses the technology of data mining on the web to find interesting stories and create original content from them, which is distributed on Facebook. He understood that the answer should be found in social networks. He recruited an academic who helped him examine about 30 personal journals written during the Holocaust and chose that of Eva Heyman. He then asked his daughter Maya to help him adapt the diary to young people's language and social media codes.

Eva as an aspiring photojournalist

"Eva really wanted to be a photojournalist and live in London. That was his dream. So we said 'OK, let's let her take pictures'. After all, this is the camera today, "says Mati, picking up his cell phone from the table in front of him. "We allow it to publish where people post content if they are not professional journalists." Social networks that deal best with photography are Instagram.

They began to turn the diary into a screenplay, thought about what parts of the daily Eva would have photographed, what she would have posted on Instagram, what she would have been able to photograph, and when she would have to hide the camera. They wanted the film to look authentic, which is why they decided that the angle of the camera would always be at eye level from her point of view, and they were careful to stick to historical facts as much as possible. "Historical accuracy was very important to us," Mati said. Filming took place in Lviv, Ukraine, and involved about 400 production people, actors and extras, military equipment and period costumes and props.

The production was extensive and the advertising campaign costly. Mati Kochavi spent his own money on this, "a few million," although he refused to give exact figures. "If I can get millions of the world's children to watch this story, so they know there was a Holocaust, and everyone will draw their own conclusions, then this is the best investment that I, as a human being, could make in my life" , he says.

Sent to gas chamber by Mengele

"Very quickly, it became my personal commitment to Eva. Maya and I just fell in love with her. People donate all the time, all their way. For us, this was a contribution and the question "why" is not relevant here. But the answer is very clear. We are talking about a girl who, 75 years ago, sat in Auschwitz in October with her legs injured, hiding behind a nurse. Then came Josef Mengele and when he saw her hiding, he personally put her in the truck that took her to the gas chambers. Now, 75 years later, his name suddenly appears in the State of Israel. I am a very wealthy man and have done many successful things, but I usually think that will be what I will be proud of. "

The arguments about how cinema presents the Holocaust continue today. Even Schindler's List, which took the Holocaust to millions, was criticized for the way it filmed this trauma. Do you have red lines on what to show or how to film things?

"As someone who grew up in America, I can say that most of my friends know details about the Holocaust because of the Schindler List," says Maya. "It's amazing to hear criticism about this movie; opened the eyes of so many people to a topic that was removed from them. So for me, any narrative that draws people closer to the Holocaust, that makes them think about it and understand it – that's the most important thing. "

"We had absolutely red lines," says Mati. "And they would be there if I was doing a regular movie or if I was writing a book about it. I do not want to go to Auschwitz, for example. I would not show what Spielberg showed in his film; I would not show a shooter that shoots people there. I put limits on the story. I do not like to portray extreme situations, but to suggest them.

"The question of what it meant to be a woman in the Holocaust, what other directors would have led to a place that would show rape and beatings and sexual exploitation of women – I do not show that. I can suggest this, as Eve did in her diary. She writes, "There are things they do with women here that I can not tell you." This is something I can connect to.

"There were other things that were red lines for me: I had to be serious, precise and sensitive. We are not making a history scandal; we are being loyal to the actual content of the diary. "

Perhaps putting up huge posters about Ayalon is not the most sensitive way to announce a project that deals with the Holocaust.

"I'm giving you this interview because it's important for me to promote the & # 39; Eva's Story. I hate advertising," says Mati Kochavi. "I live my life quietly, my PR office hates me because I'm one of their worst clients. Did we do the right thing? [with the billboards]? I do not know, we consulted experts and this is what they advised us to do. Maybe it was the right thing because everyone is talking about it. Eva wanted to be a famous photographer in London, so we gave her a camera, let her tell her story on the Instagram and put up huge posters in Tel Aviv. We said that instead of London, it is Tel Aviv and she will be famous in Israel.

Another girl besides Anne Frank

"I had a dream that I met Eva at Auschwitz, she was sitting with her friend, leaning against a wall with her legs crossed, and I told her:" I can not save you, but in 75 years I'll say to you story. "And she's looking at me from above. From my perspective, we brought another girl into our memory as well as Anne Frank. Everyone is talking about Eva, and I'm not sure if it's so terrible.

Of course it's not terrible. The question is whether it is appropriate to announce the Holocaust on a huge billboard over the Ayalon.

"You're asking a fair question, but still, apparently, if I had not done it, you would not be sitting here with us now," says Mati Kochavit. "Maybe no one had written about it, and it could be that Maya and I had sat down over the weekend and observed what we had done with some friends and said that everyone was not watching. That billboard was not disrespectful, because all it showed was a hand holding a phone near her name near the barbed wire behind which she had spent the last four years of her life. If we offend someone, then I'm sorry. Same.

"The criticism of us was minor in comparison to the friendliness. We have tools to measure this, and they found that 80% of the responses were favorable and 20% were opposed. You mentioned earlier that the trailer was lighthearted – you have to remember that it was a girl, and your struggle was to be happy in the ghetto and in the most difficult situations. This is part of the drama in the diary.

Perhaps this obsession with preserving the memory of the Holocaust is an archaic notion that it is time to give up? Perhaps we have to relieve our children of this burden, of this fear? For what it is, exactly – after all, everyone adapts the historical lesson to their own opinions.

"Many questions like this come from laziness, when we are too lazy to think of a new way to solve problems. Often, entrepreneurs seek to solve a problem in a new way that no one has ever imagined. "I have a lot of friends who like to sit with a glass of whiskey on the yacht and do not think about anything, because everything is good – they have money and they do not want to think about us. difficult and troubling problems in the world.

"So, yes, memory of the Holocaust is a complex issue, but I think a person is, among other things, a refinement of all the personal and collective memories he carries with him. You may decide that the memories are a burden to you, you may decide that it is complicated to be Jewish, so why you should remain one. The question is who you are and what cargo you want to carry. For me, my burden is a part of me and giving up is not an option for me. I'm giving the children the choice of whether they want to see this story or not. We are telling a story and giving children access to it.

"Every generation thinks the generation later is more superficial, but that is absurd, of course. I did not go to the Ministry of Education, to the government or to institutional bodies – from this perspective, I am totally avant-garde. I said, here is a story and you are invited to attend in the most democratic way possible. I'm telling you that it exists, and whoever wants to come and see it. It is open to all. "

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