Claude Lanzmann, the French director behind the landmark nine-and-a-half-hour Holocaust documentary Shoah, died Thursday morning at a hospital in Paris. He was 92.
Gallimard, the French publisher behind Lanzmann’s autobiography, The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir, confirmed the news to the Associated Press, but did not provide any further details.
Lanzmann received multiple awards from the likes of BAFTA, the Berlin Film Festival, and France’s César Awards for Shoah. The documentary, filmed in the 1970s, recounted events from the Holocaust through interviews with survivors, bystanders, and perpetrators in 14 countries. No historical footage was used. Instead, Lanzmann told these stories through testimonies and visits to the locations where crimes took place.
According to IFC Films, which handled the re-release of Shoah in 2010 and 2011 after its initial premiere in 1985, the documentary grew out of “Lanzmann’s concern that the genocide perpetrated only 40 years earlier was already retreating into the mists of time, and that the atrocity was becoming sanitized as history.”
Born Nov. 27, 1925 in Paris, Lanzmann directed multiple other documentaries, including Sobibór, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m., The Last of the Unjust, and Napalm. His final work, a four-part series called The Four Sisters, premiered at the New York Film Festival last year. Each chapter focused on a different woman from a different area of Eastern Europe than the others.
“What they have in common,” Lanzmann wrote, “apart from the specific horrors each one of them was subjected to, is their intelligence, an incisive, sharp and carnal intelligence that rejects all pretence and false reasons — in a word — idealism.”