Price: $195.00

    Code: 2508

    Directed by Christophe Cognet
    2013, 104 minutes
    Purchase: $195 | Classroom rental: $95

    In 1945, when the Allies liberated the concentration camps, they discovered thousands of secretly created artworks. These drawings, hidden from the Nazis, offer an unparalleled understanding of life in the camps. Featuring interviews with surviving artists, curators as well as recently uncovered evidence, this fascinating documentary considers the ability of art to capture, reflect and survive under unimaginable conditions.

    Because I Was A Painter explores a wide range of perspectives, from an artist who grapples with finding beauty in paintings of corpses to Treblinka survivor Samuel Willenberg who believes that the artworks can be nothing but inherently devoid of beauty. In addition to works intended as art, the film contemplates the role of alternative relics such as portraits of Romani victims killed by infamous Nazi physician Josef Mengele and paintings that were recreated years later because originals were lost or destroyed.

    The film looks at paintings, drawings, wash drawings, and sculptures held in collections in France, Germany, Israel, Poland, Czech Republic, Belgium and Switzerland. While drifting among these fragments of clandestine images and the vestiges of the camps, Because I Was a Painter undertakes a sensitive quest amid faces, bodies and landscapes to explore the notion of art and its preservation as an atavistic necessity.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    Official Selection, Western Psychological Association Film Festival


    "A meditation on suffering and beauty and how art can bridge the gap between the two." - The Hollywood Reporter

    "Represents a break from the rigorous historical work typically associated with documentaries about the Holocaust, and its open-ended nature is a fitting analogue to ongoing questions about testimony and healing." - Village Voice

    "Recommended. -Educational Media Reviews Online

    " Because I Was a Painter raises profound questions about the role of the artist in documenting the dehumanizing misery of the concentration camps. Offering invaluable insight into the triumph of art in the face of an unprecedented horror, this is recommended. -Video Librarian