Beyond Paranoia

May 3, 2016 by Roz Tarszisz
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Filmmaker Monique Schwarz felt so strongly about the importance of making her documentary  – Beyond Paranoia: East-West, the New anti-Semitism –  she couldn’t wait for traditional funding and used her own money.

“It might have taken ten years to get funding and I don’t have that long” she told J-Wire.

She and her husband/co-producer, Benzion Tidhar, eschewed the traditional method of using 16mm film and shot with a digital camera.  This saved time and money but still allowed them to produce a professional product which has received acclaim far beyond her expectations.  They did get some funding for marketing and for that she is grateful.

Monique Schwartz

Monique Schwartz

The documentary is part of the current Holocaust Film Series showing in Melbourne and Sydney and after that she and Tidhar will be looking at taking it on the road. There has been “phenomenal interest” and while she expected more flak from Jewish communities, is heartened by the mostly positive response.

Born to Holocaust survivors, Schwarz grew up in Melbourne where she studied at film school and lectured at University of Melbourne in filmmaking, film theory and history.  Her family still live there and she now spends three months of the year in Australia and the rest at her home in Jerusalem.

Previous films include Bitter Herbs and Honey and Mamadrama – The Jewish Mother in Cinema and her work is represented at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Schwarz spends time learning Hebrew, something she struggles with.

“I manage on an everyday basis but cannot have an intellectual conversation” she said.

When asked why she thought the film would raise flak, Schwarz explained that it often goes against the grain for Jews to accept that inbuilt anti-Semitism exists.

The demonising of Israel is real and “waiting to emerge” she says.

“We can always see the other side of a question, it’s a Jewish thing.  Among Jews, denial of inherent anti-Semitism is so strong that for many to admit that it exists is easier than accepting the truth that people hate us just because we are Jewish.  Taking the blame on our own shoulders to appease the haters is irrational but it runs deep”.

“I hope the film will find its audience because people find it engaging and important” she said.

Beyond Paranoia screens as part of the Holocaust Film Series on Sunday May 8 in Melbourne and Sydney. Monique Schwarz will be present after its showing in Melbourne for a Q&A session hosted by Dr Felicity Collins, Associate Professor, Latrobe University.

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