The Forgiveness of Judith Malina screened privately on August 14, 2017
at The Framestore Preview Theater in London, UK.
It subsequently made its festival premiere as a “Special Program”of New Filmmakers New York
at Anthology Film Archives on July 7, 2019.
Jeffrey Wengrofsky (director) and James Sclavunos (musical score)
attended both sacred affairs.
Next screening will be in conjunction with Secret Treaties: Strange Political Bedfellows
April 2021 at Film Noir Cinema.
The Forgiveness of Judith Malina considers the ethics of forgiveness in the context of the Holocaust. The film features never-before-seen footage of late theater director Judith Malina with an original score by James Sclavunos of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
As director of The Living Theatre, Judith Malina (1926–2015) was a giant of the American avant-garde, and as an actor, she had roles in classic Hollywood films like Dog Day Afternoon, The Addams Family, and Flaming Creatures as well as The Sopranos. Born to Jewish parents who escaped Nazi Germany, Malina formed The Living Theatre in 1946 and became an influential figure in the burgeoning postwar American counterculture.
Among the first performances of The Living Theatre was a faithful adaptation of a work by poet Ezra Pound (1885–1972). Just a few years prior, Pound had promoted fascism and hatred of Jews on Italian radio, yet Malina’s adaptation ignored his politics. The Forgiveness of Judith Malina asks why a Jewish refugee from Hitler’s Germany would inaugurate an anarchist theater with the work of an artist who, only a few years earlier, supported regimes that sought world domination—including her own death. Even after the war, Pound did not recant. He was classified insane to avoid treason charges, published his Pisan Cantos, gave a fascist salute to reporters, and took a vow of silence in Italy.
In her final screen appearance, Judith Malina recalls an encounter she had with Pound in Italy during his vow of silence on the anniversary of the birth of Dante Alighieri. Malina, the daughter of a Conservative rabbi, meditates on forgiveness, a central ethical tenet of Judaism, in reference to the Holocaust.
Original musical score by James Sclavunos (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) and Peter Mavrogeorgis (The Vanity Set/Twisty Cats).