PJFF: The Origin of Violence

In this film, which was the official selection of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the protagonist, Nathan Fabre, teaches in a French-German school while working on his thesis about French resistance to the Nazis during World War II. During a research trip to Buchenwald, he discovers a photograph of a concentration camp prisoner who strikingly resembles his own father. Back in France, still haunted by the image, Nathan looks to his father for answers but is met with impenetrable silence. Committed to learning the truth, Nathan pursues the matter himself by digging deep into his family history, meanwhile complicating his relationship with a young German woman, whose family history is similarly murky.

By interviewing curators of the Holocaust memorial, tracking down survivors who may have known the man in the photograph, and confronting all of his living relatives, Nathan pieces together secrets that have been kept hidden for more than 60 years.

Based on Fabrice Humbert’s semi-autobiographical, prize-winning 2009 novel of the same name, “The Origin of Violence” will have you on the edge of your seat through its innovative use of flashbacks to provide a reason for the protagonist’s history of unchecked anger.

The film is in French and German with English subtitles. Ian Fleishman, assistant professor of German Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, will be the guest speaker at the film presentation.