The Zone of Interest, courtesy A24

On the 15 January we held an exclusive screening of celebrated director Jonathan Glazer’s new film, The Zone of Interest. In partnership with A24 and Jonathan we were able to host a showing of the film for our friends, supporters, staff and trustees, and hear Jonathan discussing this important film in his own words.

The Zone of Interest centres on Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss and his wife as they strive to build a dream life next to the concentration camp. Using unorthodox cinematography and carefully layered sound design, the captures what Glazer describes as an ‘extraordinary reality’, with a ‘critical distance’ from the subjects of the film.

Jonathan Glazer was joined by Sandra Hebron, a film curator and Head of Screen Arts at the National Film and Television school, for the evening’s Q&A. Glazer discussed the research he undertook for the film within the Auschwitz museum and archive.

Jonathan Glazer and Sandra Hebron

He looked at family photographs taken by the Höss family and used these to inform filming in a villa only 50 metres away from where the family actually lived. On visiting Auschwitz, he was struck by the idea of prisoners on one side of the camp wall being able to hear normal family life, even children splashing in a swimming pool, on the other side.

Jonathan also discussed his decision not to portray any scenes of violence or atrocity. Instead the audience’s only conception of the camp comes from sound or descriptions by the perpetrators. He said we are all aware of these images, and was conscious of the fact that re-presenting them through cinema could serve to glamorise or glorify these scenes.

In 2023 Jonathan Glazer mentored several young film makers from the National Film and Television School in a project to create short films promoting the work of the Library. Both films, Witness and An Audio Testimony, can be viewed via our YouTube channel now.