Dame Helen Mirren introduces audiences to Anne’s story through the words of her diary, an extraordinary text that has made the tragedy of Nazism known to millions of readers all over the world, and reveals the brilliant, enlightening intelligence of a young girl who wanted to become a writer. Mirren’s set, a perfect reconstruction of Anne’s room in her secret refuge in Amsterdam, with every detail carefully recreated by set designers from the Piccolo Theatre in Milan.
What would Anne Frank’s life have been like had she survived the days at Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen? What would have happened to the hopes and dreams she wrote about in her diary? What would her talented voice have told us about evil, about Auschwitz, about the death marches and about Bergen Belsen? And what makes her, still today, a friend for millions of teenagers who identify with her youth, her suffering and her fears?
Off “set”, a young girl, Martina Gatti, leads us on a journey that visits the places that were part of Anne Frank’s short life and her feelings. Her role as a silent witness, talking to her peers using social media as a communication tool, comes from the need to place the tragedies of the past in relation to the present, to understand what could be an antidote today against all forms of racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism. It is through Anne‘s curiosity and her desire not to remain indifferent that we realise how contemporary her words are and how powerful the voices of those who can still tell their story.
Anne’s story is intertwined with that of five Holocaust survivors, Arianna Szörenyi, Sarah Lichtsztejn-Montard, Helga Weiss and sisters Andra and Tatiana Bucci. Once teenage girls just like Anne, with the same ideals, the same desire to live, the same courage. Like Anne, they too suffered persecution and deportation when they were very young. They were denied the carefree light-heartedness of their youth; they lost their families, friends and loved ones in the concentration camps. These stories of the survivors of the Holocaust put words on the blank pages of Anne’s diary, as it fell silent when everyone in the secret refuge in Amsterdam was arrested on August 4th, 1944.
Dame Helen Mirren says “This is a story we must never forget. We are beginning to lose the generation of people who are living witness of what happened in Europe in those terrible days, and so it’s all the more important to keep the memory alive looking into the future. With the advent of the wars in Syria, Libya, Iraq, with the immigration issue that’s happening in Europe, it’s so easy to start pointing your finger at different races, different tribes, different cultures, different people and say ‘you’re to blame for my problems’. So, I just feel the diary of Anne Frank is an amazing teaching tool, an amazing vessel to carry the real understanding of human experiences of the past into our present and very much into our future. I find it very, very important and that’s why I wanted to do this piece”.
Anne Frank: Parallel Stories can be seen in select cinemas from 27th of January. Participating sites can be found and tickets for the event booked via https://www.annefrankparallelstories.com/