Being in a disagreement with the official Auschwitz Memorial is not an ideal position for anyone, but given the circumstances, Hunters creator and co-showrunner David Weil seems to be doing it about as respectfully and thoughtfully as possible.
Over the weekend, the official Auschwitz Memorial Twitter account criticized the new Amazon series, which stars Al Pacino as the leader of a group of Nazi hunters in the 1970s, for “inventing a fake game of human chess” for a concentration camp flashback, calling it “dangerous foolishness & caricature.” Now Weil has responded, explaining his decision in a way that comes off as level-headed instead of overly defensive.
Auschwitz was full of horrible pain & suffering documented in the accounts of survivors. Inventing a fake game of human chess for @huntersonprime is not only dangerous foolishness & caricature. It also welcomes future deniers. We honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy. pic.twitter.com/UM2KYmA4cw
— Auschwitz Memorial @AuschwitzMuseum February 23, 2020
Auschwitz was the most notorious concentration camp in the world, the site of unfathomable horrors and over a million deaths in the 1940s. Yesterday, the memorial’s official account condemned Hunters and tweeted an image of the fictional chess match scene in question, saying that they “honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy.” Weil responded in a letter to Deadline, pointing out that the show was never meant to be an exact recreation of historical events and explaining that he went out of his way to avoid depicting the “specific, real acts of trauma” that occurred there.
This is obviously a tricky topic, and it’s inevitable that people are going to feel strongly about it. From my perspective, all I can do is say that I appreciate how Weil’s response actually feels like it came from an adult who seems to be aware of the responsibility that comes with tackling a story which intersects with one of the most horrible eras of human history. This is clearly something that weighed heavily on the minds of the people who made the series: when we interviewed the co-showrunner, they told us “[The Holocaust scenes] were fictionalized, in part, because we didn’t think that we would have the ability to do those stories justice. We weren’t there for that.” We can talk all day about the quality of the series your mileage may vary, but at the very least, I feel like other showrunners should use this as an example of how to thoughtfully, tactfully, and respectfully respond to controversy.
Read Weil’s statement in full below.Hunter Creator’s Response to Auschwitz Memorial’s Criticism
Years ago I visited Auschwitz and I saw the gates my...
When Hunters was first announced, I remember feeling invigorated by its concept. I didn’t really look into it too much beyond series creator and co-showrunner David Weil, and felt at ease knowing there would be a Jewish person of my generation helming the project. The knowledge that Jordan Peele was on board as a producer meant it would likely be subversive and challenging. Then we got the first trailer and I was all-in.
However, nothing could prepare me for how this series would reflect my personal experience as a Jewish woman living in North America today. What Weil and his team have accomplished is remarkable; they’ve created a series that straddles the trauma of our most recent past alongside the threat of our imminent future, while lovingly and angrily embodying the very essence of the contemporary Jewish experience.
This article contains some spoilers for the first season of Hunters.
I’m shaking as I write this. You see, it’s impossible for me to talk about this show without getting personal, much like it’s impossible for most Jewish people to disconnect from our shared generational trauma as a culture. In a recent interview with Variety, the cast and crew discussed the show’s significance at a time when the visibility of latent antisemitism is on the rise. Near its conclusion, the show’s creator, David Weil, talks about growing up Jewish in America, surrounded by subtle forms of antisemitism. “Small acts,” he says, “a joke about Jews in ovens that I heard when I was in college or a swastika being spray-painted on the front lawn of my high school growing up.” I wince. I know exactly what he’s talking about because I’ve experienced nearly the exact same things.
When I was 16 years old working at the local movie theatre, a co-worker stopped me to tell me a joke. He led with “you’re Jewish, so I think you’ll like this.” I gave him the go-ahead, not sure where this was going. “What’s the difference between a Jew and a pizza?” I didn’t answer. I stared at him in stunned silence, which he took to mean I was waiting for the answer. He continued. “Pizzas don’t scream when you put them in the oven!” He laughed as if he’d told a real knee-slapper. I started shaking and, in my anger and hurt, I yelled at him. I told him that wasn’t funny, and he told me to lighten up. After all, it had been a long time since the holocaust, he said. I proceeded to tell him about my Abuelito, my mom’s father, and shame him for ever thinking that kind of joke was okay. He apologized, though defensively. I walked slowly to the staff washroom and proceeded to cry there, alone, shaking as I am now.
When I was in University, I got really used to being the only Jewish person for miles. Typically, if we’re not in a predominantly Jewish area, we’re usually the only ones in a...
High school can be a battlefield, but rarely has that battlefield seemed so dangerous as it does in Amazon’s stylish Sundance drama Selah and The Spades. The feature film debut of writer/director Tayarisha Poe, Selah and The Spades follows a young girl who is chosen to be the protégé of the Queen Bee of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, and discovers that she wasn’t the first to be given this dubious honor. Watch the Selah and The Spades trailer below.Selah and The Spades Trailer
Amazon Studios has released the official trailer for Tayarisha Poe’s feature film debut, Selah and The Spades, a stylish high school drama set in the closed world of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school. In this exclusive world, the student body is run by five factions: The Spades, The Sea, The Skins, The Bobbies, and The Prefects. Commanding the top faction is the titular Selah Summers Love Simone, who decides to choose a young protégé to take her place upon graduation. But as that sophomore upstart Paloma Celeste O’Connor soon finds, it’s a treacherous path to the top.
Selah and The Spades seems like a teen drama in the tradition of Brick or Thoroughbreds — stylish, razor-sharp, and populated by very good-looking teens who all act like characters in a noir film. The cast of fresh faces playing those characters include Jharrel Jerome, Jesse Williams, Gina Torres, and Ana Mulvoy Ten.
Here is the synopsis for Selah and The Spades:
In the closed world of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, Haldwell, the student body is run by five factions. Seventeen-year-old Selah Summers Lovie Simone runs the most dominant group, the Spades, with unshakable poise, as they cater to the most classic of vices and supply students with coveted, illegal alcohol and pills. Tensions between the factions escalate, and when Selah’s best friend/right hand Maxxie MOONLIGHT’s Jharrel Jerome becomes distracted by a new love, Selah takes on a protégée, enamored sophomore Paloma Celeste O’Connor, to whom she imparts her wisdom on ruling the school. But with graduation looming and Paloma proving an impressively quick study, Selah’s fears turn sinister as she grapples with losing the control by which she defines herself.
In her feature debut, writer/director Tayarisha Poe immerses us in a ened depiction of teenage politics. This searing character study encapsulates just how intoxicating power can be for a teenage girl who acutely feels the threat of being denied it. Exciting newcomer Lovie Simone’s performance beautifully embodies both Selah’s publicly impeccable command and the internal fears and uncertainty that drive it.
Selah and The Spades premieres on Amazon Prime Video April 17, 2020....